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Full text of "Alton of Somasco [microform] : a romance of the great Northwest"

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1996 



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ALTON OF SOMASCO 




"A PALI. OR A B,G RAPID. WEVH GOT TO GO THRoi;^ 



— Pngi 114. 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



A ROMANCE OF THE GREAT NORTHWEST 



BY 
HAROLD BINDLOSS 



J^ 



TORONTO 

Mcleod & allen 






Copyright, 1905 
By FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPATTY 



This Edition Issued in March, 1906. 



^^4U4i:3 



CONTENTS 



CHAP. 

I 

II 

III 

IV 
V 
VI 
VII 
VIII 
IX 
X 
XI 
XII 
Xllt 
XIV 
XV 
XVI 
XVII 
XVIII 
XIX 
XX 
XXI 



™b first encounter 

AT TOWNSHEAD-S RANCH 

HARRY THE TEAMSTER . 

HALLAM OF THE TYEE . 

THE HEIR OF CARNABY 

MISS DERINOHAM MAKES FRIENDS 

ALTON BLUNDERS 

HALLAM'S CONFEDERATE 

MISS DERmCHAM FEELS SLIGHTED 

THE UNDELIVERED MESSAGE 

CONFIDENCE MISPLACED 

IN VANCOUVER 

THE SOMASCO CONSOLIDATED 

THE COMPACT 

ON THE TRAIL . 

CAUSE FOR ANXIETY 

ALONE 

IN THE WILDERNESS 
FOUL PLAY . 
THE NICKED BULLET 
OKANAGAN's ROAD 



PAGE 
I 

13 
33 

35 
45 
55 
65 
7« 
86 
98 

109 

121 

•31 
142 

«53 
163 



171 
180 
189 
'98 

207 



CONTENTS 



CHAT. 




XXII 


MISS DERINCHAM DECIDES . 


XXIII 


THE AWAKENING . 


XXIV 


HALLAM TRIES AGAIN . 


XXV 


ALTON IS SILENT 


XXVI 


WITHOUT COUNTING THE COST 


XXVII 


THE FORCE OF CALUMNY 


XXVIII 


ALTON FINDS A WAY . 


XXIX 


THE PRICE OF DELAY . 


XXX 


SEAFORTH's REINSTATEMENT. 


XXXI 


"THE THIRD time" 


XXXII 


ALTON HOLDS HIS HAND 


XXXIII 


MISS deri.jcham's confession 


XXXIV 


THE CONSUMMATION 



FACa 

. 2l8 

• «7 
. 238 
. 348 
. 361 

• 271 
. 282 
. 291 
. 301 

3'2 

322 

33J 
342 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Frontispieu 



%HROUG°„--". '"°.'^'"°- ^f'v= cor TO CO 
BACK TO STK.K™! ' ^"^ ^"^ ■""'^ 

' ■ ■ • ^"cifg page 2 

W.TH ALTON'S HAND AT H,s THROAT . 

"remember you're RiniN^ „«. 

30MASC0," CR,E0 sCboO^ ! ''\°^ "= ^''^ 



" 58 

" >44 
• 194 

'349 



vB 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



CHAPTER I 

THE FIRST ENCOUNTER 

struggling with a half tJ/Zl r ^""^^^~ '"anch stood 
ish Columbian settlement T r -"'" ?°">' '" ^ ^"t" 
back, and was de r hTnc; J ^ ^''^'""' ''^^ '^i'> i'^ ears 

unsubdued within liim bu fhl „„'"u '"°'l "^ '"^ '•='« still 
not immediateirreirct the nff d'"''?,"^'"'^^ ^'^ ^'<^ 

espedallyanxroLtrkeeMhebl^si P"-*"-^'-- "ot 

I'd a°k't-hrbo;:'?o'myr;!f^- iA"^/ ^-^-ough, and 
night over the lake tra I Aff I"'''"" '° '^"^^ '"'" at 
wood-pulp Carter hasn^^n^^ ''""'^ .'"°'' "^'^"^^d into 
lay you a dollar Alton f^ f "'^ ^"^ ''™' ^"^ I'" 
the pack on ht"' •"" '"'' >°"^ P^''^" ""'t Put 

<^^p^LSr^;T ^^' ^ ^-tnii^t^ -^'1^'"^ 

straightened h.«self.^ Xre^.^^ X P.L^a«rand%£: 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



whi e, thouch all of th-m „J.j j ^ • . " '° *"* ™ee, 
turesque and showedT, I '' '''P?"' '^'^ ='"''•'= ^^^ pic- 

line of never-meWn^ inow ^ ^'' '°'' " ''''" '^hite 

Charley." ^ "^^ "'^ P^^'' ^"^ ^eizi,, s handy. 

the'brMrT"en"fht?:av\t^^^^^ '"K' '■?'^'- ^"P "" 

lifted and the z^! .';Tz:z:r&tJs^t'^ti 

of man and beLVrmidst^tleTur eruTslr^tW 

v'ShTr^-ottr^t^^^^^^^ at '^!F °^ '^" 

S^SdnHl^£^S"S^^ 
with his knuckles bleediilg '"""^ "P breathless, 

he7Jd'""cLTou°;K^^[' f ^ ^'" '^-P ".-m now." 
Carter?" ^ * ""*"' ^ '^O'"': ^"wn next week, 

.ZS^'/oT':;,:^^:^^'"- -^0- promise is good 




^-^^ ^S ^^^r ^^--^ ^-^-o' 



THE FIRST ENCOUXTER 

aside with a little Lesture of di,^^^^^^^ ?"' '""^ ''" '"™ed 
different stamp pu^heTbyhfm'^^h!^''.""'' """ °^ » ^"/ 
felt hat and a g4t fur-lined r^.f^'i" ^°'^ " ^lack 
and fleshy andSt e/es were°?un;;^n^ ""h-"" ""' P*'« 
suggested prosperity anj a life ^7T^f ""• *K«»""ce 
and when he stopped in from of ^tof r I"."'* ='""' 
have lost little bv anv r-nmr^, ■ v '°" ""= '^"e"" would 
pose of hi fneVfiL °e f "'X '^'^T ">= P''^" Th« 

and there was feu ious IfaceTn hi ^"'^ '"'' '="''"""". 
turned courteousi;rorard!The%rranger"'°""''"'^ "''*" ''^ 
AUon" ITugh'T' '■ The^'t^"'" "'V''^ ^'^^ "-"• 

siiS^:;S;^^--"^-^chr'i^i^^^ 

J^hTr-e ^.^ '"^^^^^^ -.her 

of ^p^^ii^z^^^, ;s'&r t^^- 

up yonder, big pump's riven ci,,t Za r r '"? *'"8^^ 

•idfS ten." 5MtS2r"i'?S ""'n" "■!- 

trade with you "he said "Yn„!^'T' ^°''''^ ^ ""' 

-an to pa/k up soml'siores'^for wi "'' P"™"'' ^"°*" 

Iet"hfm wa7t!"Ve faT""T.'^fr-„ "^^ y°" -n 

You can put Vour owli pri '^""' ^'" P^^ y°" '*"«'•• 

Alton's eyelids came d> n a 'little, and the stranger 



ALTOX OF SOMASCO 



seemed to find his elancc discotirpp»;n„ .. v 

to understand. I oroiniL,! H,„ ![^ ^- ^°" ''°" ' »eem 

things." he said. '^ ""^ ""'^ '""" ^ ^""S up his 

der.S'ha^fa dS":;it'hTr;r w"^ '"'"«""= '"''"'^ y- 
of getting over the difficult! "• ^' '""^ ^^ "P ''°'^« W 

don^d^%L'r'h.'\'S;ay'lrZ''^'°r ""'l'"'''- "I 
who know me." ^"^^'^^^ ""'' then only with the boys 

demn"TEnSma:'-'"- " ^°" "«= '-"''"« "•<« a con- 
with you, anvwav Yo„ .'.. ^^°"'< n t suit me to drink 

-".With one or>two^;^rof-n^-^tr!;;^r:;;: 

so"; im;:;'rL°cet the'ctt"ies"^"='"', ""°.-^ « -- "^ 
and indication "' ^'"'P"' ""'^ astonishment 

"What is that fellow? "he said. 

sIoleltTrawf"^" V- '".^ ^-"T''"^ ^im in the b- ' 

ask7saidhe " WstuonTl "'"''''■ ''I '•''' 

^^^.hheJ]^^^^-^-— ;^f«M^i. „ 

fac"thiri^re'5Z ^: ''ir Y- - -™- look in his 
heard of Alt'on!Tnd so^S^'i^,,^^ "^«"*'^ "'^^ "^ '''»d 

keptr^otcd'tralltTc;' '[" n'"^- ^"^"^ "^-^ -" -ho 

thin^'he ^tfi!^ ^i ^,:^iJ'^-r' 

who came in smilinj? *^" *° ^ rancher 

tos'^irit*:Wt''aV'c':ihT^-r '^■■'.^ -"■^^'^ ^ownshead. 



•an's 

■Idn't 

lives 

this 



THE FIRST ENCOUNTER 

on your invoice for (1,0 13^1^ "' ^"'' '" P"-"' >•"" 
J ni going to whittle down h./ vn'""' ""^- ""'erw'ise 
fee Town.shead is too shakv tn ' ?°"'"derably. V'ou 

live on notliing - "''^ '° <^"'"« ''"wn, and he can't 

later he and ^'ton tramned n,^*^'/!!'' '"'^"'-^ "»""'«' 
three loaded beasts spIaS 2, fl "'f ^^"'^"'^"t with 
«hem. It was ahno.t dark^nnw .""""''^""Sr '" front of 
still glimmered whi°e and cold^;; '.'"'"'^''k'' '""^ °f »"°w 
""til the trail plunged into In i"'' ^>'°"'^ '^e trees 
Thtn the liehts of tl,,. c ?!i ^ •''^'^ncss of the forest 
them, the hum of vo 4 c Itr"' T^h """^'^ ""' ''^'''"d 
primeval silence of the bush tL f/ Y"' "'^"^ '" 'he 
t.red hoofs only serve to en dI, J' l "? ''"'' 'P'^"^!' °f 
s;^e: or creak of pack" op° '^ f ^^'^^.^^^^^^^^^ '''in jingle of 
the great dim forest seemed t^'' "P ^"'' '°'t, for 
could do to disturb its nn^fil '■' ^'t ''">""ng man 

all that valley wherfnn h- • '"■?"■''■ '' ''ad shrouded 
beginning, S^i^^tV^^^Z:^:'!' '""^' ^^<"" '^e 
Feen. Pine and hemlock ba sairi / , '7''' ^''^ ^'<^™3"v 
in due succession others that hnd "<'"• ''•''d f""owed 

their stature only in centuries andT" 'u "j? ^"'"^'^ °f 
which brings soun,l sleep to man's aZ Cfi'"*^ !,"^"«' 

a^n vS :n°aSi%':;?i^ '•-''''- H-^^^^ w^^" 

bee^Xr'^t il?:nVta1?rh;dT/-^ "^T^ "^ "^^^ 
^P.nt of his race. He had^l'i: '^r^.l^^Z^^J!^ 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

did not greatly please him, though he had watched their 

them by what he read m books, which to the wonder of 
h.s associates he would spend hardly-earned dollars upon 
It was more curious that he understood all he read and 
sometimes more than the writer apparently did, for Alton 
was not only the son of a clever man, but had seen Nature 
in her primitive nakedness and the human passions that 
t"e t'e'r^" V*^ the surface, for man revertfa little an^ 
bush civilization wears through in the silent 

wi^thi'* plodded on contentedly on his twelve-mile march, 
tTin f t- 1°"^ ""'' *!.■""■« ^"^^^ it reaching now and 
then to his knee, until his companion stopped beiide a litUe 
bark shanty and lighted a lantern. 

" Thomson's dumping-place already," he said, pulling a 
burst cotton bag out of the sack of sundries Gpon fhe 
Cayuse ponys back. "Some of it has got out, and^mmy 
was always particular about the weight of his sugar Well 

In^ll'^ u u* ™"f' ^,^ "'« ''°"°'" somewhere, and if 
you 1 hold the sa k up I'll shake it into my hat " 

Alton s hat ws capacious, and he had worn it during 
the two years w..ich had elapsed since his last visit tS 
Vancouver, but it did not seem to occur to hi-,- that it 
was in any way an unusual receptacle for sugar. His com- 
panion, however, laughed a little as he stirred the sticky 
mass round with his wet fingers. 

• "^''•!ri'^ "Ptt"^^ ^"'"^ ^™ o""" tobacco and matches 
m, said he. Here are the letters Mrs. Neilson gave mc 
at the post-office, too." ^ 

Alton took the letters, and his face grew a trifle erim 
under the flickering light of the lantern as he thrust them 
cruLipled into his pocket. " From England, and they will 
keep, he said. " There's nobody I'm anxious to h^r 
from m that country. Now we'll go on again. Charley." 

Ihe Layuse, however, objected, and there was a strupffle 
before Alton convinced it that resistance would be useless, 
while present y the trail grew steeper and the roar of water 
came out of the darkness before them. 

" This," said Alton gravely, " is a great country, but it's 
6 



THE FIRST ENCOUNTER 

mighty unfinished yet anH ;t i,- i r , 
that power wasted.'^ ' ^ " '""'' °^ hurts me to see all 
Wasted ^ " saiVl *s*i f l 

"^vim in it. and the bear ^'deTr'aoS;; A °°"'' '"^ '^''"°" 

Oh, yes," said Alton " An.^ ^ '^°^" '° drink?" 

wash themselves in it too but th^?"'"""" "^« ^ivvash 

This earth wasn't made f^'th "1 "''"' "°' the question 

thousands of poor follcs thev can> fi' f"*^ '"'"'• ^"^ they've 

stfoltVThr- ^^" *^^' - 'h H,;-.^- hack th^ere 

f d he. "I„^ any case none n?''""' ^°'' ^°"hting it^ 

gold and silvet1nd"the'coIf'anri'l''"'P.''- ^'^^ have the 
^e .one that these for^^l ^^i -;,^'e it do^, 

ou.fs^-d'lSLrdS'^ '° '^'^ ^""'^ ^-"""^ - getting 

Alton nodded. " Of cour,,. " i, -^ , 
™n got his brains for, and th^ on. ff that's what 
white man and a Siwash"s thf t h ■ '''^'■^"'^e between a 
something better." "'^' hes always striking for 

Seaforth lauched " V«„ „ * • 
as^usual,;; said he " ^'^ *•">""& *" &et at something. 

Yes," said ^Iton eravelv "7 „ 

can see what we don'f wint „f th ^''"/'*"-^ ^'"^ Well, I 
up to China, and this r^er sDr nkf. 'm'' '^'""'^ ^^wn 
wood-pulp factories. Then I^I' ^ f'^ vy.th sawmills and 
hummmg, and the thump of he mil . ""^ ""^ dynamoes 
current the men who pu^ °hern down T^' '^ ^^'*h the 
What we're wasting round Som. J ■ " ' ?"' ^°' ""thing, 
thousand people bv and by " '° " ^°'"8^ *" ^^ed ten 

don't' know 'H«Mf'\>'''' ^'''°'"* ^^Aectively. "Still I 
would look'aLv^ett r-:ndZ''/"V*^°"^'^ 'he "JLe 
to_set the whole thing runmnt''' ' "°" "' ^^°'' ^°'"g 

^-'Ou knows " enirl A U 



^W* 01- SOM^SCO 

y Prettv ac .V • . 



jes its '^'-'iVlASCO 

There's nothing '^^^er pt pa.d for & ''^"""ff^n 
rte CayuV pas W' °"'> bv „ah, ^^ '^^'"e out of the 
«>« 'tSbertt '?■: ^""^"'^"^ o'r f"- "P^«Ws'nfuI^ 

^"f arm of it T,!^, P'"es to the fLi ■ '^ ^^d slippery 

^«^-"-e"'rd^'^"-''«t""co;;^i 

''^^^ts up, andthJa •^""nuered all .>"" ^'^eraj.e roof 
^eing no'th^ b "a "r"""'^-'-'-'' "" foVcdlv f '^■'^^edThe' 
j^pvv and then thlr "" P'^e or tivnfi " ''esidc them 



1 



THE FIRST ENCOUNTER 

^"?^Jl^ ]^t^ ',*'? '^'?S^^ *=y dislodged had plunged into 
a onely lake lying far below. Still Alton saidToth nL 
but floundered on, apparently as cheerfully as thoueh he 
would be well paid for the risk he ran, untfl he crlwled 

an7V"l°.'f'V"''"f ^1"'^"*^^' -"^^ - hide s rip burs^ 
and some of Townshead's packages were scattered abou 
the face of a precipitous declivity ^-"erca aoout 

Seaforth held his breath a moment as, gripping the 
bridle of a trembling beast, he watched him un"n'^ hf dim 
moving figure sank into the snow. He could hear th^ 

Md'on th'; r''°"" "'^' '"" ""^^ ^hlrrwas no foLt 
hold on the slippery rock which sloped almost sheer to t 

up"''tasn't tt;L"» h"^ '"T''' Then "fvoicf came 
Charley?" ^^ ^°°'^' P^'^'^^^e of some kind, 

"There was," shouted Seaforth. "But come ud with 
what you've got, and leave it." ^ ^ 

cAhi^'"- '^"?^ answered him, and through the moaning 

edi L?r r ^" ■'"^*" *" ^°"^'' " " it « not "ver hf 
edge here I m going to get the thing." 

whitened object lurched up out oi the snow. 

was^ust on^thf ;/^''' ^}°" <^heerfully. "That last one 

stuff for the p '5 h ^^f"^ ." .^^^ ^°'"^ !^i"d of dress 
beforeThe gol anoTher'." "' '"' " " "'^''* ^^ ^ '°"^ ^^ile 

in ^f^^ ''^'u'''^'' i^^ packages and went on again flounder- 
mg through steadily deepening snow, until once more th: 
roar of water met them as they dipped in o a hoHow It 

upTn'the brin^'^ ^"'^ '"'T'^ ^''°" P""^^ 'he' ayus" 
n Lil ( vJ °^ ^ "^^'■- ^t ""le clown frothing out of 
fhe ^rP^f rf'"''"^',",°^' '"'"'"'"& ^i'h ^ hoa>-se growl abou 
fuL^n H^ .^'"''^,'."' ^''''■''='' ^""^ tossed in a white con 
fusion down the wild race of a rapid, and was bst Lain 
How far the other bank was there was nothing oshoX; 
even the scattered pines behind the men were^ hWdenAow 



■ f 



^TON op: somasco 

1, — _ . 



d^a?'«'-e'^ at the U..U. of f.oth before «.ve^ 

the C|„ -g^d^a^S', and^ brought his hand down on 
horrlb rco,rVr"':''"=*P "^^^ minute and th. . 

wet arm about the rock L t^' ''°'"'''y ™W, and flun^ , 
calv fnr "5,'' 't'^^'f and him rffl *^P°"y would be 



THE FIRST E.YCOUNTER 

and fatie-ue thaf ac i-u^ 

be too ifte veS's^„'t{?,7,^0"Id not help hin, it n,ight 

help himself, when he hearrf . ^^^ ' vigorous effort to 

ever, now sank rapidly anri JrSA "• ^''^ water, how- 
knee Then there was'a clltt^ .1 ^l' <=''=='^ °f it to the 
and he lurched drippW and '^I -^ ""i^^' °" slippery rock 
of the pines. Soffly "ta^? '"*° 1*"^ Pa^a/sheher 
he heard Alton's voice, ^gS howT^lu *''? '''°"'der, and 
Townshead's in an hour or m '' ^'^ ''"*''«'• We'll fetch 



II 



CHAPTER II 

AT TOWNSHEAD's RANCH 

oflL"^." ""^u^/u^ ^^""P "' 'h^ log-walled living-room 
vflw Tf'lf' homestead, which stood far up in a lonely 
valley amidst the scattered pines. The room was also bare 
fuiiTr^"' =°"'f°«'"^. fo^ the land was too poor to 
h^ not .h^^''"'"^ "^-'^ "'"'■^ ^"^" necessities, and Towns- 
l^^ u-^ u^V° ""P''°^^ 't "i"=h. He lay in an old 
S the wor^?:^l"? ''°''' t ='™.''^^' g-yhaired man 
hMvvforhfr S^ .° °"^ '^^°''= ''"''=«" had been too 
Iu7j2^ A ^" ^""^ ."'^^ 'hin and somewhat haggard, 

rancher^'anH^hU tv," r*''" '•"' °^ "" "*'^* ^^an fbush 
rancher, and his threadbare attire >vas curiously neat. He 

v.r. "T^. °*^f somewhat unusual things an old red 
Jnd a iilt'' •'"'' */■■" ^"' ^ ""le cup of black coffee 
f Je him "^" exceptional quality^n the table b^! 

inT°Zt^^'^ V^' "'n A'*' somewhat of an anachronism 
in a country whose mhabitants exhibit at least a trace of 
SS^Wm tf .^''°'''°'"^ barbarity. One could have fan- 
S^? r. u ''""^ ^""""^ men of leisure and cultivated 
tastes, but he seemed out of pl.,ce in a log-built ranch in 
the snow-wrapped wilderness swept by the bitter wind 

Sd " I wo'nt'l '■*• '"l"^' 'A -- -l^erulous a" he 
said, I wonder if you have forgotten, Nellie that we 
were sitting warm and safe in England five yea^s ago Z 

Nellie Townshead looked up quickly over her sewinir 
from the other side of the stove, and for Tmoment tTerf 
was something akin to pain in her eyes. Th^ were clear 
brown eyes, and it was characteristic that they almost 
immediately brightened into a smile, for while the rir°'s 

courage rf In nlf. *f "'^ -■" ''' -finem'n, there ^wL 
courage in it in place of weariness. 

12 



AT TOWNSHEADS RANCH 

able ."'he'sS' ' '°' "'°"^'' ' '^^ "o' '°- ""d am generally 

however, denied to me while thl^^ni |;°TP^nsation is, 
I'ving in luxury on what was vourVnnH"'''-'"^ ^'i'^"'' '^ 
been any one but ChartPrc r ^ u ". *"** """e. Had it 
bm it wa^s th: one manTh d fa™h^1|, 'X "^'^ '* •"«" 
to penury " """ '" ^"0 sent us out here 

welCsf^^'^an^^eTSrve^^^^^^^ ^^ '* -- the 

friends were ready to helnH^^TP^^*"' "-hich, while 
himself in Western Canada wh^; ^'"^ .^"^^'^ him to hide 
speculations, financial d"saste^nv',.^' the result of unwi.e 
ter, however did not remind hi-^T^^^ '"'"• «'« ^augh- 
would have done though she ^nl.c:'' !,' ?°'"^daughter= 
and a memory out of kfeninl ""^^^'ood it well enough, 

and moaning of the wind S n.^ W ^u'"" °^ *« »°^ 
>nto the twinkling stove She couM // 'iflu' *" '°°''«^d 
years ago very well for sh^ 1„7 t*"^" *at night five 
lights and music, as fresh and brthf 1,"' '",°/* °*J* '""'^st 
that nestled against her fir^tln § ''""t^" *' *e flowers 
triumph and revelation in 1^1 ^L^^t ^* *=^ » night of 
power^f her'^au'v and" her'tx and' l?"l 'f '^' f"" 
with the glamour of it all ...^t '.,''. *5 ^^^ returned 
sitting wit^ his head iii'hf ffi" at aTabil-^'^^'^'^l^ 
business papers. His face haH frLv-f j 1^ ''"^'■^'^ with 
neverwholly lost the l(x>k,h^.V^'^"^^ J'^'"' ^"^ "'* had 
head was lack^g :n fiTe and hadT V^^' ^°' ^owns- 
for horses and sime exnerienr^ nf T"^ *"* * ^^n^ness 
on a small and expensive sca?et« r^'^"' ^^"'^-breeding 

for the grim realitrof"rrch1^^grwSTaL''dT™^^ 
Presently his daughter bru^h^H rt! *-anada. 

and stood, smiling at the^r^^n ,l^L"^T"-^f ^"""^ ^er, 

faded cotton drefs, w th roa'rtlv fi?-?^'' ^'"°^y '" ^er 

hands, which frost and ,.m'^hrJ^ P'^'V^^. garment in her 

and red. ^ '"" ^^d not wholly turned rough 

sto7°"^she°?ar " "^ ^^"'"^ -'^- Shall I put it on the 
Townshead made a little grimace. "One may as well 
13 



ALTON OIP SOMASCO 



•' sSf yo'SX'Jr^i Tit"^' " «=''-'co^ •• he said. 
Po>nt out that, indiffewnt as h^"'" ^°"' *»« ^ might 

afraid we shall have none t^J„ ^"^ merriment. "I am 
gets through," she Lu" "tsTo^": v"''^1f ^" ^eaforth 
dollars you could give me, fathe'^'?^^?* y°" have not a few 

-s; "-ir^JZ^'^'ouT. ra^-""' -usual decisive- 

Whatdoyou wantthem fo?'^' '^''^'' "'^'"S for dollars. 

and we%'a?/°pl?K£°';r4t-s in for a long while. 

colour crept into her face ^' ** ^"■'' *hile a little 

Townshead made a vesture of .. ■ 
man seems willing to d^it out of^r?"!5'u-- J "^^ yo"ng 
see no reason why we shou"d no! fl"?'^''''?-^''' ""' '"^ ! 
presumes upon the triflinrserv,V^° a«ow him, unless he 
justice, however, he zXscomrJfu""^- "^° ^o him 
commendable taste." wmrade have always shown 

posUionf iJ, Tcountry' wheri°I ^^.'fl'^V^^'" ^'^'a'-ve 
cording to his usefulness the word "nrl^" *?." ''*^"°" »c- 
cong^ous. " Still. I should^ pX ^^'T^^ i^S^^ 

patiently. •'*'"' *^"as in, said Townshead im- 

nolt t:i!:rrSZ'^'^,-"^ -afraid that will 
sure y remember he is lying iip " '^"'- ^°°' Jack. You 

querul^ir'' I^CTirtn^""* "°" '>^" townshead 
a son of mine should hire h^selfn,^'' """JV^'* "^ 'hat 
sorry I let him go, the moreTKL ^' ? labourer. I am 
ranch is getting^t^ mu^for m^^'"=" ""^ ^°^k upon the 

she'^pl^TJ^^touS^aTti^tt ^•'^ ^■■^"^'^ - 
rheumatic fever as a rU\ft,H he. s,r..e„ ^by 

14 



AT TOWNSHEADS BANCH 

= f EaE^^t '.-r^r-r --' -'-^^ the 
father that it was she wl had in r^'"''' "'^'"'"d her 

H"^rJoL^,r„"otKfca:eh^^^^^^^^ 

^ l^K7i^^-'^^^ ^^^^^^^^ ""■ '°^ ''^ ''^'' 

alx,ut the stovie tdTobured' aTr"^."''"l ^"'"-''> 
glanced at her inquiringlv " Tht 1 "'''^" ^er father 
h>gh and Mr. Alton and his nartn.."'.^ J""'' ^ "■""">■"& 
^■d. " I am warn,ing a few^of Jack'^o Jlh"''^ 7"'" ''^e 
iney cannot eo harU tr. c J^'^'^s old things for them 

, ''^r^"''^h-' t dif J,7,^/„7/°-"i^^ yol know""- 
angu.dly. " No, I sup^"e one could T.'' '?"' Townshead 
to, and we shall have to endure th^^r "^^'"'^e'y.e^pect them 

A fa nt snarHs ft,,* t , '"^"^ company, 
crept into t 'etL^r 'Jes lor" fh""^ '° ' ° -■"' '-"ghter 
father tried her^t.^nce •' r wi;i^ ^'^.'^ *'•"" whether 

" • rssir- ..if «/='f ?" * "- 

and *m .he pricked nirS^ ^"H "" •'"=• Sli I. „ow 

l.ar sense of humour "' ^^"^ ^'"^^^^ ^ somewhat pecu- 

'>ps. "I'feeStntTet^rtrv ^^ f^^^^ ''"■■- of her 
you know there is scarce v -1 ^u"^'^"^'' to-night. Do 
house, and that I am dreadfullv h ^"^ ^°' ^''^^^^'^ '" the 

Townshead ehnc^/Ju^ ''""^'■y "ow? " 
or the other'wj'uTdte e',uanyX"aS"£ " ?.'"*- -= 

The g.ri s,ghed, and tSrned^ atlrS^Va'few^:^^! 
'5 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



Pr:n*ed cotton wis "aTmost'empty T^h"e L' d'^J.^ °' '"^^ 
no prospect of receivino- (,;. ^" '"^ ,""^e° man, seeing 
stormy interview and ,hn^? wages had departed after I 
TownshearSvered thaf « •'' ^" '°" ^°"°*'='' him. 
unsuited to his const^ution T^'"^ .^"""^ *'»-"' «PeciaIIy 
draught a little and ndrvo„re^toVcn ^'' '".^r^"*'' '^^ 
house was damn for wantof „ "^P"^?^' ' *'^'v«'"- The 

wind that cafnTdown from the'^hrh'n^u'''"^' ""^ '^' <=°>'' 
eerily. It was also veryTone Iv anH^^h^"''? "'l'"""^ =»«"' " 

si.e^:;i:!;\XnT;'^hertt.:''of',o^''v='"f '"- -- 

days in faf-offlnS wh^ch '"had'sZ'"^ °' *''^^"'«''*" 
for ever. Five vears wafn^f , PP'^ '"^^ ^'■°'" her 

it her English Vi:rdsrdtrgot?e;\t"^anr '"' .'"■•^"^ 
scarcely left her side that n,^n.%^;Kr her and one who had 
read of the doines of ht "l^'T'^'^^hle mght had, though she 
no word or token A in eZfh"' "°" ?"'' '^en, sent her 

^,^no^6XlH£-^-^ 

^w^1eft^^,ii:-£!iH^^n^:^^S 
occurred to her that X h.H^ . u'^V-* herself, it had not 
The hands th^t had once been" oftU'd"' ^J. ^"^ '=''^"^«- 
firm and brown, the stillriessof th. ^ ^^'^^ "^"^ "°w 

i6 



AT TOWNSIIEADS RANCH 

I li^^pe, s r. ^_o., arc foclin/pretu weM '• Townshcad. 

offered hi„, hcspiuditv ' ' '""'"""'* ^^'«=" ""= girl 

of it!"'he SI;' "" '""^'^ ^- "-" "■>. or I wouldn't think 

" ^^^^:;n:vr^;i,- 1: ?'^r -' >-• 

Alton lautrhcd and hn, , ' \^.""''"-r way? she said, 
the stove. " Wdf" d li.;'^^ *^,"-".'' ^<^ross the top of 
all.the meanin,'s'the ge" ' h n""'' ir's.i/'^'^T^' f " 
.sn warn, enough for%„u, Misr Xdlie " ''• ^^" P'^« 

«^:f ":^ i^1a;s^;:;£en^^^^^^ 

don'tyoi. worrv- Iknow i,?.f,i i""^ "'"P'>- " ^^'o, 
are, and Charlc\' \vho co, L, 7 " ,*^ ?^ ^"'I 'intern 
talk to you for me" '' ^™"' '''' "''I =°"n'ry, can 

wa"le":"wean.'dicf"°ot"<.r"?r'' ''"' "^^ ^^^^ that he 
who also notTce^ le absence ^f' '"'"""" "^ *e girl! 

or explanations Ahon wa^ hTLT'^rV ''"^^''""^ 
did things the better bern,^.; h vT'', ^''■^='''>'' ""^ who 
it was Seaforth Xm when nnh'V''T '"'="">'• Still. 
e>es rested most upon °''°''^' °^'^'^^'^ her, he^ 

io/d oT:red^fir^ro.i't:;; t ^r^;r-"' -•'" a 

■ng. filled the box with it mrkin^ i',' I ''' '^-'"f^ "^'h- 
best fitted deliberately b ut swffth fh ?'' ^'^''^ ^^'"^'•e it 
the room into an adioinL on.- ' ^" ''^ P"''^'' through 
turesquelv in lack Tnln h r ' ^""^ '"^'"rned attired pic- 

tinctl'y too sm/,tr'^^r'm't1,rtim"'' "■'"'^'' "'"'^ ''- 
and Seaforth, also dressed n T. '""^^''PP^r was ready, 

at the table, but ^oSl^s^^S-l^---^ 
17 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



a:^°^^~l,£,S^!;'^"h her f.o. England, 
embarrassment. I Ic ab M ,m i "^ '"^•, '^''"" showed no 
V.OWS on ranchinjr and Tl J' jhu, 'fr '"''■' '° Jownsheads 
""oiiRh he was alreado^tk'A ''?='''"'' °' "'« region. 
">er in,h,stry, and co U Kc< mc^nv I 1 ^u'^'^V °^ '^e for- 

finished he unfolded a cae/iv^ ''""'• ^^'''" " "'»'' 

-hA- an envelope out of it S, v,W "P packet, and 

that several others he hi,? ,1 '^ ^ Townshead noticed 

;• l'-,^' is a leUcVfortt,'!"' he s'aM^ """""'=' •""" ^«'- 

^•use? •• he said <-n^^'lopcs upon the table. " Ei- 

^^f:l^:^.^'^^ -;'d^''. and then, knowing 
watched him c,,vertlv nVhl ' """^ °^ "° importance 

There were dS„?s ■;;,? i^" V?^ *''"<= «"^^"^: 
shook a little as he Vprei ! ? ' ''",'', "'^ "'=>"'" fingers 
'lered astonishmen' c?ept n o his'e?' "'''^; "T''^" l^^i'- 
by a flash of somethhTverv ,^^?"' ="'' was replaced 

face grew su<ldenlv impassive a'ri .-T""' "^l" ^^'^^ his 
all together into his pocket *'"■"'' "'^ ^focuments 

M^' K:^' S,«ht "r'"^^'°"^'" "<= «id. 
you wish to do? '"she said "" '''=''P'>- "What do 

fix t^lJ'esf thf,i;t' FnXnT'^hl'; „"-^ ^""'' ''""^^ "ow you 
custom. Stir tround Charley" " ' ^°°'' Canadian 

are.'^'"'" '""' '''" ^'^'- " >"« don't know where the things 
then^"*^"'' ''''' '^"°"' -->ing, "I fi,„,, ^ ^^„ ^^^ 

foni: I::::! diLpii^^d',::;:!:'^: ?^/"^ '-^^ ^-^ it to sea. 

but not hefore Miss Town ,"eLfhf;^^ "'e kettle, 

comrade, who had apparen h Wn ","'" "?^' ^^^ile his 

i8 



AT TOWNSIIEADS RANCH 

upon her ZcT ^ ""^ packages. hcUI a roll of fabric 

afraid that stuff" a iS4''Lm'' '^^'T >?''-'^y- " I'm 

Ji nouiil nave been wetter if ff i,^ i ' • . 
said Scaforth. " "="" «""« '"to the lake," 

"The lake?" said the Rirl. 
-|tl^^S.r^;!n;n^S;!^Sl. ■'^'-ontheT,ee 
bii^::l^'S!r^.;^,:^=t^^J>;' "-ere was a subdued 
when leachng her -ho se alnnn- ,h T" ''''" ""« shivered 
felt for his comradc°reL" 2ler , ^TT '""• A""" 
grievously. ^ ""'''''^ ""^ '»'''<= and kicked it 

sa7he"^.\Tu're"g'oinr,o'" l"" '"? ="°- -as soft." 
Miss Nellie?" ^ ^ '° "•"'«= a dress of that stuff, 

wa'lle'tt'er ••''' ""' ^''"'- " ^ ™"'''' however, wish the stuff 

Alton smiled fraveK- "--if .... 

it don't count for nuch You w™ Ml' I'll''"'' " Sti". 
anything." ^°" '^""'d look like a picture in 

mSt£n!;:=^^;--!.^at Ijin, sharply and for a 
a trace of temper. '^ '" ''" ''>"' f°>- she had 

"Whatever made you say that' " -inirl cl,„ 

Aft'eV^hi'^';' ^'',°"^''' ■' vvou^T'4x;;u." ' "'-'''" t ha;-e 

Sc^fo^^/on^oc':sit'rid"t''iL!:-^ 7^^'"= '^"'^^''-and 
said, "England's not ?overvbir\'r ''"<-■"«!■ ^' '^« h'^ 
.f you kno^ a place caHed Carnabv •' ^'^ '^'^"'" ^ ^^""'^^^ 
old hall'th'e're'"''' ^'''- " ' ""'^'^■-'="' '° ^ce rath: , fi„e 
;; Carnaby Grange? " said Alton quietly 
Jfes, said the pr wth a tr^^^ t ■ ■ 

b n.tn a tra^L- of curiosity. "We 

19 



^TON OF SOMASCO 

place? Tell me aC it r ' ^'"'^ °* '■°^^^- And the old 
-d l^'^'^IS'-.J^^ ^f[ rit looked quiet 
''ay, but I could scarcely delcrib^fvn '2 *''5 ='"'"'"" 
ing like it in Canada." ^ " >°"- ^o" have noth- 

. No," said Alton irravpiv " t u 

Th?""^'', ^"' -^-'t there a ake'n- '''" "°"""^ '"^^ 
woo.^.v^.O-,ea^,-;::e^^^^ 

whth'^^lltiS,*a^t'^T\-" ^"-'= f-. 
;? a lake at Somasfo where yo^eln" '''.r^'^'u " ^here 
l.e shining, and the bi^ Wan ti mm. T ""^ ^^'^^ P^aks 
said. "There are cedar? tni j * '^°'^" ^ drink," he 
— ' 'or a few InS^r^"' lltl^'l^^^^ ■' which 



'^.■a ui Israel.' 
" You apparently read 



except fora few n Caifornh ['^^^^°°ds about it 
world, but there's n. W Ibout t'h?t" ' J'^"''' ^'1"^' '" the 
quiet or calm. Ifs wild and Sea 'n^Vr !, "^^^''^^ *afs 
nothing of that kinrl U-Ttu ,T " S^'^and. No. They've 

tne Scriptures ' " 

-'S':?;fS^,f;i:^,^g^, "They ,et hold Of 

B;bS^" -'^ --^a3 t^S:^^Tr ^1:5"^ 

t'-^^h:1:!,^l-:;:^a-^4y-'^ a little late on 

fo^:^; ^:^:icro^tir^ ^^ -'^ -'^'"^. 

ished him. "^"^ '"^"^^ already somewhat aston- 

all about Carnaby." « "^cr tne lake ? I want to know 

20 



AT TOWNSHEAD'S RANCH 

Alton lis.e;,ed gtveTy ■• Ye,'''.',"'' °H ''?5,'^^'""0', and 
it Tl,- ay^iy. xes, he said. I seem tr, cno 

L "11 "Thj:^r,s;^;r* ^t' ^"^^ big w,:r^ 

that .cn,,s Jo,,, through tl"","" '^! °PP°^''^ ■"i'le °f '* 
wood- "''°"^'' *« ^"" f™"> the big beech 

■''F"thi„l!'''T" ''"\^i'''' "''°^ ""'d yo" know that?" 
"Or^Xs r/f thtlofc' 'l^' ^=^''' A-ton gravely. 
nabv/and I feel ^I know it well'' "'"^ '° '""^ "^ ^ar- 

The girl stared at him in her wonder " R„f t, . • 
Carnaby to you ' " she said ^onaer. But what is 

cuseme" " ^x*™ i tnmk 1 II turn m. Ex- 

hell be better to-morrow H.k u ,• ""^ " ^°P^ 
deal to-day " "^^ "^ ''^^ ''««" through a good 

«?Hs3^->^='^^^ 

ss^HS^^Ir^iw^^X'^-^ 

indu'ced mTsV^n to fonK"°' '"° ^'"^''^^ ^""'^ "avf 

ex^re^^iof ^.h^l! Has n^aui^ tH "''^ 'I' ^^'' -''h an 
pected to see fn her face ^ ^ °"' *" "'='" ''^'> «^- 

AnywarH^rrllta'iiSe oh'/r ''"""^ y"" -"^ed it. 
a thing oXdfficuIt he can't rf-.°'^f''°"^"y' ^""^ ^^en 

he wan°t^ s^c^t^ a'^S^frsJ:Ll;™f 'hf?'"^^ ^ ^^^^ 

21 



CHAPTER III 

HARRV THE TEAMSTER 

from Parish WW eX' 'K''"^^"^ with^c^der, ./h"'""'^'' 
iney were, however fi,n„ , 

22 



I 



I 



HARRY THE TEAMSTER 

I father tlT" " ''"'« ''■"" o it':,';':'''' uV ""^ "-"--^ 
I dian Dn^^ announced his intention of ' "'''■'''^' ^^''en l>er 

oaughter having tlie fine dis.lfin^f '^""'Panies, but his 

c„j" "«" *• »e ™ h, ,& axETs Kits 

n>Peg in no way appealed to hi ^."Pf"""" ^''°^e- Wn 

features of the ,itt,e stafio^s'the/ s^e "a^" ^ ''' ^^"-^ 
23 



ALTOX OF SOMASCO 

and^ban?oli!"/h'T l'"'' ''"^ '""''^^ '° '<^^™ ^^at pistol 
and bandolier had long gone out of fashion in Western 

portion 'o^^t^' 'r''^^''- "'^^ ''=^'' ^='^^'>' f"--"^"' - "<=«1sa ? 
portion of the plainsman's attire, but she had expected a 

he sa'w at'f.T'' '"' °f — 'ce. The .toc'k ridert 
drps<f ;n /' /5<=. ^f^^t'"" ,^vere. however, for the most part 
dress m faded jean, and many of them appeared to sneak 
excellent English, while the wheat-growers rode soberly 
in dusty and dilapidated wagons. S^ill the romance wa^ 
there though in place of the swashbuckling caval'er Ine 
found only quiet, slowly-spoken men. with patience most 
plainly stamped "pon thoir sun-darkened faces The r 
hands were hard with the grip of the bridle and plough- 
stilt in place of the rifle, and the struggle they waged was 
seasons"' ^™" °"' ^^^'"^' '''''' and^frought' and^le'L 
There was, however, a transformation when she awoke 
and ZT"^ '"' ^°""''/''^ ^"'^'"^^ ^^'^ been left behS 

world fl.nd//''" •"!,"""' ^"^ apparently unfinished, 
world, a land of tremendous mountains, leagues of forests 

heLhN J '"''Sin^'r ha<l never pictured.^nd untro d n 
heights of never-melting snow. Glacier, blue lake river 
droning through shadowy canons, rushed bv, and The 
glamour of ,t crept into the heart of the girl, until as they 
swept down into the valley with a river tlo thousand fee^ 

stfaTgetV;!"'^ ^^^ '' '^^^ '" '"-'^ -'"^ --*S 

Presently the hoot of the whistle came ringing Uu the 

toed 1 1'".''"^'=^ discordantly, and the pinfs below 

flitted towards them a trifle more slowly. Then as thev 

swung rocking round the face of a crag and a cluster 01 

wooden buildings rose to view, Deringliam can?e out upon 

the platform. lie was a tall, slightly-built man, with a 

pallid face and keen but slightly shifty eyes and bore the 

unmistakable stamp of the Englishman ^ 

" That must be our alighting-place, and I am not sure 

how we are to get on." he said. " It is. I unders°and a 

lung way to Somasco, and when we get there I realfy do 

not know whether we shall find any accommod.nion suit- 

24 



il 



HARRY THE TEAMSTER 



^n'^ '°f,7?"- 1* !?'ght have been better 



had 



nn f^ ' T- , "K"^ "3ve Deen better if 
AHce n ""t' "'" ^°^'''- «t Vancouver " 
need wo?ry""ifrAr^^'',,=' ""'^- "^ '^°"'' """^ you 

^ve''^^.^rrxB«^"^^^^^^ 

his'clai., the"ot"er'ol ctrnTby^ "l^ir '■halVho"''"'^ 

half-civilized axemen i;vfn^"o. 7^ V^""?*^'" "^ °"e of these 

to me. n fac^Tfee . ^.,f •^""?^^," '''^°'' distressful 

before I have seen ht" '""°"' '"'*^ '° ""= -^" ^ven 

There was another hoot of the whistle ;, I,>fl» ,<■ .■ 

the cars stopped with a ierk anH M;„ A • iT ^"^" 

down from the pla form Her fir f °'=""^ham stepped 
Ion? rank? nf ^iJr^K- • ""^^^ glance showed her 

silhou'ted hard and Xr''n"'^' '''"l ^ ^^^•''* ^'"'^ P^^k 
Then she became con aV^stf^'tL*? '«^''-"^* *^ ""^• 

^u£^r\nrr^.r"S^^:;-aa:!^ 

25 



f^ 



I i 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

p& .Ipoii^iUS ZT ^"■" ^r'"^-^- *^' her 
her own resources h^a new ^1^°""' ^"'' '^^ ^^"^ 'eft to 
There were no obsenu?o7, nnr. """''''1,' barbarous land, 
which lay whereThaHLr'i.^°'^°"«<=' her baggage, 
open, whiie a coul ofJnfX ^"h. °"^ '^""k flpifg 

-at .fferenV ^i^ZC'tZ'^rS^":;;^ ^^ 

saiZtiirJan' '■ pLt"of 'tiU'^" '^r''^"'' '^"^^ >°" -." 
along, and they're k,d of rn^^'^ P^spectors came 
you a berth on the verandah b.^H'. ^''7 ""^^t find 
would suit the lady It mfxes ihfni ^on t know that it 
you bring a woman " """^' "P ^nsiderable when 

" T^'h::! iftK„74^,*„h^ and the girl laughed. 

she said. ^ °^ ^*"'"Sf "" to Cedar Valley ? " 

The man slowly shook his hpaH "v 
but it's close on forty miles" hT -^ ^°o ™Sht walk, 
on Saturday." ^ "' ^e said. Stage goes out 

wafedtrt'mllL'at'on?''"'' of resignation. "I never 
suggest anythrnj at an? W.""^ ''^!' K^, ^^'^- " Can you 
platform until Saturday" """°' ^"'" "^« ^ere on the 

you."" Wen,"now TZf^Zt' h" ' '°"'* ^IT ' -"'d 'et 
you." '^""''^'^ "* Harry could find room for 

tur^rdtrh^id^Vthrwrn't" "^ ^•^^'■>""^" ^ "--"ag 
load into a two-horse waZ v.'^Ar"? ""^'' ^^ hove his 
ticed that although the ba^' ZJ\^^''' Peringham no- 
man trotted lightly across tLl.f'""Pf''. '^o lbs. the 
upon his shoulde s"^ Then he cam'e t ft,"'? ballast with it 
she glanced at him ,„;;i, ^^ '" '^eir direction, and 

breafhlesf before'^hrm' Hrvfore°fb', "' 1' ''1°" ' '""^ 

^e't hat - whiS- vil;^flot.T„d"hL''brr^te^-^ 

26 



I 

HARRY THE TEAMSTER 

red with the dust Sfili u 

a sood face, with broad forehe°aV/n^ f''''«^'''' ^"'^ i' ^vas 
whde the effect of the solW jaw w^f °".^' ''"''^^' "°'«. 
th'ng .n the shape of the mob f. ii„? -?l'"^^'"'' "^^ '°"'e- 
keen and steady until a ,vm„ T: ^^ S^'"ey eves were 
them, and Miss DerinUam^ T ,'i"."' u'^"""'''« ^--ept into 
her position. '"^"""^ ^«" 'hat the man understcwd 

T);1Loraient'Ix'^^*'=.''''='''ffi'^"'ty?" 
gravely tool" oT hl^'^f d 'iT'^^'Z' ^'"^ ^^e stranger 

-" of biilf Jj^shlTd'of c^rsfr^^T' '^''■•"^ o«t a 
you for your trouble " '^' "^ S:Jad to recompense 

laugh^d^rCSriXrC-'^'r.^ '^ ^"fl'^- then he 
mg- dissonant in his me&„r"" WeH^.^ 1"^^^ .^^^ "otS! 

thS mil's?" "'^"'^ *- - 'aik ofThil: ^UelrX^; 

bfelKL\",^^w1^^^^^^^^ ''-ng up the 

t carefully in the wa|on, because sh."^ I* ^"' ^^ '^id 

So!" £ xtri sFir^sr.'i.t & 

one with a faint trace of /^k' '' ^'^"^«<^ a' the second 
up." he said. °"'^- Y°" -"'ght be able to shut it 

note's':: u:;it\rrs'i:;z t ^^^ ^^^^ ^^ --.ht 

dress which had disp ayed iSe f Lt t.'"'!,'"' °^ ^" ^^^n>n& 
the man was thinkin/ and reLmK -"^ had guessed what 
not displeased with him When th^ J^'"^ ""'• ""^"^^ ^as 
she took out a dollar, Tnd then foV „^'' ""?', '" *' ^^S°" 
back again. The ma^ was a bu/h f», P^"?' ""^^^o" P"t it 
feel equal to offering h?m a d ece o"? m'' ''"' '^' ^'^ "°t 
herself up into the wag™ with her / "J''-^\. ^^^ '^^^g 
wondered whether it^^f.M iT I ■ ^°°t m h s hand and 
headed while she ddT Then ^h^r^'A*^* "^ ^'°°d ba"e' 
"'e man at the stationSaS^-^- ^t^if^^^sZ 
27 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



to'hefe"'°" '°"'' ^P'" "- "hole freight on the dip 

while Miss Derinlham (Mi^h^ M '^ i"'^'' ,''°' '^ "^'^ valley, 
of the cedars and^feh h la^h''' 'L'''^=",''F,^ ,'" "^^ »«nt 
the blood to her face Sh / '"°^-<:hiIlcd wind bring 
bundle of straw which tr„' ^°''"^''"' "ishcd that thi 
^ much, a^d frna^dTer atLr'^?;'''."°''"°^'=^bout 
comfortable had he not hni '''°','''^ ''^^'^ '"^'^n more 

of machinery. Thdr"p°og.ess waT n,d Iv"" ? ^°"'"5 P''^<^^ 
ently, for the teamster stamlfn^ • u^ mterruptcd pres- 
in on their haunches and th/ "'J"^'" "'"'^'^ "«= horses 
ponies straggling up the win r ^'"l '^^ ^ ""« °f 'o^ded 
who ploddfl be1>inS th^enT Snfc<ra • ,h°"? °' '"^ •"^" 
wagon with an ironical gHn and Mkl n^ ■'^"T'' °^ '^e 
warmer colour creeo into ,h/i i ? ^"'"^ham saw a 
was. she fancied. Tmar wilh^^l-JJi^r'^-'' ^^eek. This 

The°other w; '"^ 'I'" stopped 'Suddenly. 

th7t£nfhi:trfe£^"?V replaced 
you see." "'^- ^''^y l^new I couldn't talk back 

^^^P^^t%^^^ hour or two' 
oy wo alterations to enhanc^ Ct^.i':^: X^iH Z 

"Did you come out here from Enrrl:.nrl ? " • . , 
The man's face ^rew .'7'!), ^"^'.^nd .' .said she. 

gravely. " Whatevefcould have ^n '"V ^'°-" he said 
of me?" *^°""' have made you think that 

hat became him curious"y ™' I "^ ^, '^^"^ P!-°"d gesture 
.a./^said he. -Isn't thifcounVrgo^od^ru- ^Ta^y^ 
M.SS Deringham was forced to admit that it apparently 
28 






I 



-J. 

BARRY THE TEAMSTER 

peaks. entrancng vision of great whUe 

asto„'S.e^Xf ?h7s^^ISrt '^^ ^^'^^P^^-'^' "- waj 
s'lence her with a compHn 'nt Qh*^ '',^^'= ^'' enough to 

throyh:;a"rkrngTrver"^td"fu''^^P '""^'''". »P'-hing 
low until fhey were lo^tZ l^a^ '"^^'^'y down into a hnl^' 

wagon as she felt The lafh^fThl ''"*'>^ "^'^ ^'"de of the 
the firs rushed past. It lis LwLT'^ -t?"^ "°"«d how 
relieved when as the tr^n .^ ' ^ horribly, and she wa, 

inen flung up n ,^ , >^. one ot the horses stumbled 

fan ever, while the man had ^fl'^''^?"'"^ down fa ter 
and was dragging at X reins ?? J'" '''""'^^^^ back 
Deringham that something hnH ^ ''^"'"^d upon Miss 
were running away. "^ ''"^ ^Tone wrong an/the team 

roar :rw:ter.Xes"'4me wh-"^!'* ''^"«^* *em and the 
bush swept past, whi e To; ^nZh"'' ^ "' "' ■""'^k a„l 
almost over the edge of thrdt^- v^" *''^ ^^eels hung 
look down upon thf sornbre first^'/lT; T" *^ ^'^I «« "d 
one glance, however, shefehZl-, ^?^^ below. After 
her to do so. SuddenK one of ?L I^"''* "°* ^ ^^" ^r 
' °' '''^ borses stumbled again 

29 ' 



terf 



I^L. 



h 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

and the teamster flung her father the reins. " Get hold " 
he said. " Line's in the trace-hook." 

He was over the front of the wa-i;on next moment, and 
the girl gasped as she saw him crawl out with an arm across 
the back of one of the galloping horses and his knees on 
the pole. It looked horribly dangerous, and probably was, 
tor the wagon was lurching furiously down the declivity. 
1 hen he leaned out and downwards over the horse clawing 
at something desperately, and Miss Deringham would have 
shut her eyes if she could have done so. In place of it 
she stared fascinated at the clinging figure while the tr-es 
flashed past, until it was evident that the man had accom- 
plished his task. How he got back she did not know, but 
was once more on the driving-seat when his voice 
reached her breathlessly. 

" Get a good hold. I'm going to put them at the hill 
when 1 can, he said. 

They swept on until the hillside sloped more gently on 
! K one hand, and the teamster flung h.nself backwards 
dragging at the reins. The wagon, tilting, swung partly 
round, then there was a horrible lurching, and the lathered 
beasts were floundering up a slope, smashing down the 
undergrowth and fern, until the vehicle stopped suddenly 
with a crash. The man sprang down and Miss Deringham 
and her father lost no time in following him, while when 
at last the team stood still trembling, he crawled out from 
under the wagon and turned to them. 

That brake never was much good," he said. " One of 
the beasts stumbling jerked the line into the hook there 
and the fore-wheel beam gave out when we struck the 
tree. Im most afraid we'll have to stop right here to- 
night ! 

" But that, as you will realize, is quite impossible," said 
JJeringham, glancing towards his daughter. 

The man nodded. " It looks that way now, but you wait 
until Ive fixed things up," said he. "Then if you feel 
like walking eight miles I'll go on with you." 

The girl noticed the swift orderliness of all he did as she 
watched him take out the horses and tether them, tear 
down armfuls of cedar-twigs, and then pack them between 
30 



HARRY THE TEAMSTER 

some flour-bags and the side of the wagon, over which he 

Th";^;;^ X^-t t?grTh;iS so and 

inVh-'bfctfe: ••■ 'he^^airn'r?'"^ f .-"P" 
anything eatable in'^Ihe vicinhv'he wiiffind h "' " '"""^ " 
The snows above had lost their brilliancy, and it was dark 
below when the teamster reti.rned with severa fi^e trn^,. 
wh.ch he skewered upon a barberry stem He a so brou°h 
Lt snni'r'"^ from the wagon, and presently announSl 
that supper was ready, while Alice Deringham who lon^ 
afterwards remembered that meal, enjoved it ron^ derablv 
more than she would have believed herself capa^e of doing 
a few days earher. She had travelled far ir. Tarch of 
somethmg new, and this was the first time she had tasted 

from ^h! T'V'' "'^^ '^' '''^ °f 'ho smoke about it 
from a blackened pannikin. Grindstone bread baked n a 
hole m the ground was also a novelty, and the crumbling 

There was also, by way of background, the glow of the 
un into th '"? ^'^'^''V^' f «=" c°'"mnar trunk! which ran 
up mto the d.mness above her, and the cold glimmer of the 

anTwhle th "h" '''' ""'l" '"^"^ "'^^" *e red flar!^e 
sank, while the hoarse roar of an unseen river emphasized 

nH /i'"r- ,\^''' '^"^ f^'* "i«^« '^^' something unreal 
and theatrjcal about it all. The light that blazed^tp and 
S ^"'^" ,^f «".'ty °f the snow, and the vast impenetrable 
shadows filled with profound silence, seemed all part of a 
fervidly-imagmed spectacle; but as the silence deepened 
31 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



and gained upon her the no«itm„ 
seemed to feci that this w^? h^ "'r' ''^r""^''' "nd she 
nian was created for and ,h^ '■'^'"-'■; ""= ^"vironment 
c'vlization, out of place "n tt nHn?'",'' '",,""= ""»^' "f 
father, in,n,aci,late as ever n hi! ?",•"'''''=""=''• He"" 
'■'s lean, pallid face a so JarreH 1 '^!'^'=".'"S 'weeds, with 
the teamster, bronzed bvfrn TT ""^ ^"=^'"^' ^"d Harry 
tl'e soil up,,; hi" , alone a nL?'nV>"\^"'' "'^ «^'" °f 
seemed no longer harsh ,ni *? V°^ "f harmonies. Thev 
and she felt shf^ust go ^ck to'^:"' ''",' "^'^^ ='"d ■■'"•'''^. 

w^d^y;^r:A-5;;lr^^t.t- ."iwas 
w.?satst;^:h!flr7^^--'ch 

>nff that something was due to tLih '/'•!;• ^"' '■^"'ember- 
and lighted it. He said nJv J ^°^*' ^'''"^ a cigar out 
turned to the teamster """^ ^°' = '"'"«'<=. and then 

are fetl^^h'iUnvfafin^^i*?^'''"'^ ^^'^.'"^ They 

an^^^SS^rlir ' r '^'^^ "«e 
-^adsee„wher^L';^^S---;.aj^ 

and Kiieve' they c'S^'m cT' t""''"' -"' *em me. 
of any kind in R^iti^h Cofu::;bf,"^- '^^ """'^ '"'^^ "^^^ 

amus:d.''ne"t'.^clThe''kne''"^^^'' ''''' ^"^ ^^'^ 1"»"> 
went far to carrv h.'m moothly JhroT.h H"" "'''""'' ""''^'■ 
holders' meetings, but it seemerl fW ?? discontented share- 
the wilderness were at Si • ' """" ^''° ''^^'t in 
dwelt in London Dernehal 'f "'8^^"* f those who 
speaker. ^ermgham, however, glanced at the 

thi'nk^-!:ii^-te"id'^ °''^" "^^ ^°°""' -nded. but if you 

the'^faVfrTra^l^fXa^J^tt;?''' ™"'^ ^^"^ -• ""^ 
said. " Now, if there s ^nfl- x' "'^8^°" ^"'^ forpot," he 
country." ' ^"^ " ^"ythmg I can tell you ateut this 

32 



HARRY THE TEAMSTER 

^;/p^liZl^!^' ^""^h-. "whether you know 

, Harry the te^mst ; bodied "" T*"-^' ," ^l!,'' *e girl. 
I ever did for anvbody else " lie ,al'7'"''erably harder than 

«^to ^uSl^-^^rr '^'^■■™-*d"atio„, and he 
man he is? " he said " Well h.' ? "'^^" *''« kind of 
and there are a Ja m^fti^'l ZZi r'"" ^? '""^ « 

i>o I should have fancied "cf'^.u " f know." 
than the listener, and won.l';e/wheth'er^> ' '""^^ *° ""="«>" 
he firehsht or the curious twinkle h.H ''■'''' ^" ''^«=« °f 
>nto his eyes. •• You do not seem tnri,°T-^ T^"""^ """hed 
The man looked into the fire "Thlf '"';", '^e said, 
how mean he is." he .said ^^^ "■°"'''e '« i know 

Mean.' " .said the eirl " rt,,* • • 
No," said Harrv- " T ^ • u '* "'^Srardly ? " 
another word for low 'down irTtl'i'' ^^'' "'Pff"dly. It's 
alway., had to work hard for , w"f 7' ^°" ^^^ he has 
teach hunself the nice ht le ".aVs yoT fo^k "h'""-''"^"'"^ to 
Hes just a biij roup-h r^n^-l.^^. . ^ave m England 
toughly for his own°hfnd. and th'ttf.".';'' [""^^^t |re«y 
ness out of a man, and ,f,ake h, n ^l '? '*'"'= '^e gentle- 
coarse and brutal " ^ '"'" ^'^at you would call 

'h^^1id:nrs:r ^- " '- "-- -""ng to say on 

well a^ n;^;Vtl^™^■htfi^i^•■:7fink he means 
wh.'e there are people who would L*^' ^L""" ^"^ "'an, 
as Jts value in dollar bill/" '' ^' '°°" ^ave his word 

Deringh"ars^,;V':"°"' ""' "^'"^'°"''>- -"■" -'"d Miss 

as welf°as ^^ ^L ''ZMI::^^^"^ " ^vway, 
up. s.r. when yolTwant to turn in Th '"'^ '^^t^ ^""^ ^ed 
bush, m.ss, that would hurt you "' ' "°*'"^ ''" '^is 

'oneirwat;^.t;.l'\h=;f°--r, '"e camp seemed 

w.nd, Deringham glanced at he^c^rbulir""'' '" "'^ '=°''' 

33 



It: 



i i 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

"Well?" he said. 

Then the red crept into his daughter's cheeks and 
sparkle into her eyes. " It will take a very long time to eei 
used to. I could almost hate the man," she said. 

"It IS hard to lose one's inheritance," said Deringham 

_^ The flush grew a trifle plainer in his daughter's cheek. 

It IS not the value of the land," she said. " But think of 
such a man, a brutal, cattle-driving boor, ruling at Carnaby 
where my mother lived." 

" Still," said Deringham, " the value is not inconsiderable, 
and Larnaby would have been yours some day." 

The giri made a gesture of impatience. " That is not 
my complamt, she said. " I could have let it pass without 
bitterness to an Englishman who would have lived in it in 

accordance with the traditions of his race, but this man " 

Will no dcubt cut down the timber, open the fireclay 
pits and desecrate the park with brickworks," he said 

J hat is, unless he has convivial proclivities, and, finding 
himself ostracized, fills Carnaby with turf and billiard-room 
blacklegs. 

The girl ground her heel viciously into the mould. 
Have you any reason for going into these details?" she 
said. 

Deringham watched her closely. " I only wished you to 
understand the position, and to remember that you and I 
are both to some extent at the mercy of our rancher kins- 
man, he said. 

He left her presently to seek the couch the teamster had 
prepared for him, and Miss Deringham retired to the 
wagon. She found the bed of cedar-twigs comfortable 
but It was some time before she slept and dreamed that 
a stranger dressed m coarse blue jean was holding high 
revel m the Carnaby she loved. She was awakened by 
lu }"^^l °^, ^ ^°^^' ^"'' '^y «"" shivering, until she saw 
the tall dusky figure of the Canadian approach the fire and 
stand there as if on guard with the red light upon him. 
ihen with a curious sense of security she went to sleep 



34 



CHAPTER IV 

HALLAM OF THE TYEE 

The mornfng was still and warm when the driver of fhp 
wagon pulled up his team where four t afls met in he 

the breakfast their companion provided. The bracino- mU 

" I' would please me to drive you straieht thrnt.<rh fn 

h'o^unf 5";^de^;- Km^ '-' °^ .Hingsf Ifn^a-ttt 

He pomted to a trail that turned off sharply and the 

Se wttrdl^'-L^^dS" ^°'"^-''=" '^'^"'''^- "^""-^- 

BaP^l^stnrWi^^rS^gr^o'l^sr 
ment^ presently, and would be glad to tak! you for a doXr 

"But we might have to wait a long time " said the mrl 

•ru ^^^ commg. 

There was now no doubt about the colour in Miss Derintr 

anS^motr-f ^r °' '".^1^*^^^ ^"^ "^'^ denied h'rhTthert? 
and most of the men she had met had been eager to do her 
b dd>ng, wh. e the scarcely qualified refusal of fhis one came 
as a pamful astonishment. The fact that she should T 

25 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



u 



I i 



'^^'l^i^'^:^^-"^ -e rude rancher 
fromX'pa^^TcknT^l? ''^^^^^ - he took a wallet 
a busy J, ,he„ r^ arhome'-tlaid' '"iT?' ' ^"^ ^'- 
of the value of your time and Mr r^ k .^' " * 1"estion 

Though he possiblyl-d'not Realize ftTr'Pr''^"''^-" 
was a trifling condescendi>i<r an^ t^ Dermgham's tone 

|He .an redded ^ g^r.7o„t ^l'UX^l£" 

ha^tS^yTu t"o z'rz'Z'" "'' "^^ " " ' -«w 

pleased n,e. "^As .t is! I can't vL see '^"""'^ '' ^°"'^ ''^"^ 

of them, while^Miss Der ngham aff^cfin"^ .^P' "P°" °"^ 
P^^lef^'-naid'r •'°- "-rwifr^e rfjr^^rt^^^^ 

g(^.^^"\^^rcis5:°-S'th-S!rr 

nS^D^n'^gt^tS ttetrs f t^rat"! ^"^'^f-^^- ^^^ 
his simplicity. Then he strnrlJ^l, Vu ^°^/°""''n"s in 

taking something out of hTsw^Me ^"J^"^^'' who was 
bghtly into the wagon, he sooke to ,1"^'^""^: himself 
a creak and rattle Ind npv^^^„ . ^..'''^ '^^'"' 'here was 
ing down the trail DeHnXr'I"' w' ^.^^icle was lurch- 
fingers inside the wallet and m^/ ''/'"■ ^ '"°"'^"'' ^is 

■.S'J'sr "i iTo^ii'St '" '"; ';"■"■■ "•■ ■"■■ 

36 



HALLAM OF THE TYEE 

Sg.-^^"' ' -"<!- how long Barscombe will keep us 

arranged a comfortable searforfou°"L'*''/°"'^""°^ has 
-' ^f^e' e.ft .r s^S'^"-- It was .er. 

not know then was made bv an . ^'T"'}"S which she did 
and the song of the river r ,^^' ''"' " Presently ceased 
fons In ffont of a"d b h r'" ^^ '" '°"^ drowsy puL- 
serned trunks which had il ^^"^ stretched the rows of 
s^atel'ness with th:'cemtira"nd° tr/'"?? of gir^l^i 
quick perceptions, felt in^t n^'t; i ^^ ^"'^- who was of 
a?e and silence. There 'a^'T'^ '^^ '"""^"^ of «ie°r 
g.ble but existent n this still /!f"'r^' something intan- 
acted upon her pleasant v =.i ."t."* °^ '''^dow which re- 
tfc°' -^^^- c^aofVe'r^mn ^^'■^' ^-'=«- a^d 

x:rrw^,-i:'rt.^,-^»^^ 

^rd--SreI<^u7^^f ^^^^^^^^ -'^ --er 

astonishment, but he w.! ""^^"ded them with olacid 
Deringham's'waiet a^d theT?''l' V° .'^' influence "^f 

a'd't ^''^^^ --^ ""thiS'^remafkali:"^'^'^" ■" '^e 
and he rummated gravely when JT *u ^'^'" 'he man, 
the horses drink DlrinjH^^m askeH^*'^ '*°PP^d to let 
cerning their late compa^S ^ '"'" ^ 1"«tion con- 

''ind ^Si'X^-J^.^^^^^ he said. "A big man, 
^^?.^£lf-^het^a°TSr;:?.^^«-'-'^ "I Should 
wagon Vmighfg^';'ss°I?'him''" ^°" *°" ""^ '^e kind of 

and/trt^antr'Sd'e'j '"^^ f.^ T" - he was able 
outfit all right,'^ said he " WhaTdM .^^""u"'-^ Thomson's 
Miss Deringham laughed "lf;f^ •' "Charge you' ■ 
noth no- " ...-J °"s'"=a- It IS curious thut 1,1 .i 



US nothing," said she, 



curious that he charged 



37 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



ir 



"ke Jimmy'^Thte' onlf Lr'''^'''*^u^' "^^ "lame un- 
do that kind of th,W l"L°LT' ■? "^'^ "^"""'^y ^°"'d 
you're telling „,e, ."^couldn't U "^^ ' "^^°" '" ^' ^^at 

quSn waTfce'drivr^Se/^'^'"^ ^""^ '"^ -" ■« 
an hour later drove fhan imo th '^ J"'' "^'"' ""^ 

carried their boxes into Hor "^3 hotel fi^e T'T''' ?"^ 
Penngham to drink with him =mH • Suavely invited 

did'^^o^^aSt" ^nd'thr;^^^^^^^^^^^ ^'^'^ '^'^ -• ^''-^h she 
"■ith yet another and more dX^ln? "^^^ "^f^" acquainted 
served supper at six o'dock and^M l""^" "°"°" =^ "^"^1 
to partake of rea y po k potafoe flL^"T' ^''' '"'P'''''^ 
fruits at the same tahip T^f *if-' J^W^^ks, green tea and 
and would no have done so for'th''" """^^ "° ^^"Pt'o"- 
small company of axemen, nd I/. P'"''"''''' """^ ^^en a 

Deringham and his dauXr took their'nr''°" -^J^^ '" 
rest. "S"icr looK their places amidst the 

sawn'oedTanyLr^ledliefl"),^.^^!^'' -'"* -ugh- 
down either' side of thf pfain fbfe C^h^^'" ''''' ^^" 
of the wood was strono-er fl,J^ It'. ^ * "^ aromatic smell 
the company rvoideno' f.n * ''• ."^^ ''^"'^ *°"'^"o. and 
at thedalnti^y-dretdrnglishwor'*'^ ^^^P^"^""' ^'-- 

thoug? theTatTas iTTeedin^ ^"^' ''""■ ^'^^^ ^y-' -d 
theyVd no fme o was either/ ^^"°»\business, and 
converse that jarred upon the e^-rl TnH ""^'^'l^ '" '^''^ 
break off in a stnrv ,.^^L ^, . ^"deed, she saw one 

not have plea^eT w"wh"n7cra"d:•'^'^"'^!f^ '"'^''' 
deprecatingly. In another tm, !• T 1^ glanced at him 
and Derinlham smi"ed at hkT"'^! ''""^.'^'^'^ °"' ^'fain, 
think of them?" hTsaid "^''"'■- ^hat do you 

The girl laughed. " Ostriches," she said. "Of course I 
38 



HALLAM OF THE TYEE 

guess your thoughts Vn,, 

fall ^nT^ZL/l::,Zinfr^^^r t.XZ'^Ztl 
cows and pigs." P'^^^^ad.ng hm to stay here with his 

aWtoIu ™n w''° had on his de/thbJ [ '''' ""derstood 
yeL .^n ^"^"d^°n had driven om/h' ''''^"^athed Carn- 

,h!. l„ I P"^ was, however -, hii? ^ • "^ d'stinctlv ad- 

S;r''i?""S«.^ S^' °" iT-.* f /^ v ^'- -'d- 

\ae girl asked nothing furthl;^' t )"^ '^^' '"'e monev " 
ub ect "^^^ ^^<^^ -hifh warned her''"^^^^ ^"-""h^.g 

fell altr'^rthf L''^ ™^''- ''"'^^^^^^^^^^ 
- astonishing ,.,-^^^^^o.ar.^.^^l^ 

39 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



ua^t^tnt-s^i^r ''""• ^"^ ^- -^'-y 

He smiled as he drerout a chair ^nr'l' '"*°/''' ^^^^"^^h. 

self." said he ^ ' ' ^«""&ham. m introduce my- 

an^frtfeSe^enratYh"e1^^ '"'"• ^"^'-"'^ -'h 
ter looked apparency s?rai^htn. . ^"^"' ^''''^ his daugh- 
ing pines. Nevertheless sfo hJ ''™ '^^'^^ 'he climb- 
not pleased with him H.^^^ '^^" *''^ "="!• and was 
beady blaclc Tyes wi?h' »^u '^ ^- ^""i^^hat fleshy face 
akin to insolence Than co^rit"f ' '". *T *''«' ^^^ "'ore 
mouth His dress was correft enolh If '"'in''- "°''"«= 
somewhat ample ring with a dlmnn^^' *^.°"^'i ^^ "'"'"e a 
chain was too heavy a^dorom.WK'V';: ^"'' ^'' ««<:h- 
ges«on of coarseneYs ab^uHr I^ertt^'',^"'- " ^"^- 
ward in his chair with an a.V !!f'i "^"^/ather, leaning for- 
in his slender fingers apnerrerf v"^"'."^- u""";"'''-"' ^he card 
rrl fancied there^was a^?esllu ' ^'".'■thesis, and yet the 
the two faces. She also felt hJrH^t'C "j^ ^''P'-ession of 
mcreased when she saw for he fir.??''''^ 1°'^^^ ^t^^nger 
and cunning in his facr/efl Jt„!i^ L*""^ ^^^ ^°°^ o^ greed 
had hitherti or^i^ pictured hm =" ^*. -/.V' father.^ She 
now she saw ouaH ."s she h"^rf ^ ''"'^"' ^"^""^'' hut 
-r.t^.^^ hy 2 daS caricat're"^" '"'"'^*'' '" '''™ 

s^esS:s^s;-5---ts:s- 

^^^^^1^^^^^ .own 
came to know me^' ' ^ '^"^ '"differently, " how you 

oth'er'mtnl'^dXrDelSr" "^'"^^•^° '-^^^^ ^^e 
amusement as she glancT^a? th^m 'n'''°"^ °^ ^ f^'"' 
tweedtravellingattirf which worn vi^^""^^^'" '" ^'' 
n-. seemed to^ang^ftll'trfrfusrCira 
40 



HALLAM OF THE TYEE 



ease, 



be, was wholly at his 

expressed toleration in his thin'"fi T° " ^''^'^^ °f half- 
Hallam appeared to becomp !- ' ''"^'>'-c"t face, while 
comparison. He probably dfd notT .'"" /-"barrassed by 
any kind is not common Jr. ft, ,w^' ^°' ^""^ diffidence of 
Realized that in any d"hca te W"^^"!' ''"' ''« •"«' have 
lie with Deringhani Both nr J^ "? "'^ advantage wouM 
"Pon the toil of their fe»owf 1"'":?^,."°'^'"^ ^"'J ^^^nt 

be pleased when I tell you but thU°V ''."."^ ^^^ y°" will 



down 



maid . " ^^^^^"Ph. and^pated TX'f ''''''"' ?'-ced 

maid! he sad. "I fanri.^ •. "'^ daughter. "Your 

,^er, my dear/ IrrevVnf .t-■^?^^to ^°arj 



not gone 



with her, 

^°^f.-" - not gone 

a, hefey?s^™^Snr cS^ t^ "^'^ "^ ^ -•««- 
missing heir," and ran: '°We are L^l^f' '""^'^ "Another 
our railroad-shovelline and tr!-i .^^"'"^ "'^d to havine 
"?e British aristocracy, and s'd™^"^.,''^^ ^^ ''='°"^of 
did in the old country so lontH ^'"l "'«'" what they 
decently i„ this one"^ Tj°ce^ recent? ^^''' "'^"'^«'"« 
these columns, the successor to JT'^,. ^' mentioned in 
value was discovered fntVe on. ^^'"'^ P''°P^'"'y °f some 
and m ^e other diggiW a °"h "'^P'?'^""^ "ranges! 
y^ have another instanefn the Sol? ^"^^=' while now 
hat long ago there was a famlw ''°, "^''^y- ^t appears 
and, and though w^do not ki^n''""r' "•' Camaby, Eng- 
the owner of what we under,t.n7- ''^^^ " ^^s all about 
urned out his son, who hid th. " 'i' ^"'^""'bered esS^:e 
to this country, where he din ^"""^ '^"^e to come out 
'eft a son, Mr Henry Alton ^nV^ ^^"- He died and 
district, who applars'^to be a cTedit'^r".!! '" *''« ^omasco 
took his father in. The owner J C ^''V""'"'-^ ^hich 
'" *^ ™-' ^-^-y - Him. a:d,"L";-f ^HiS t' 
41 



i.;;ll 



ALTON OF, SOMASCO 

does not seem to be a wicked uncle, Mr. Deringham, the 
next of kin and a distinguished London financier who has, 
we believe, had some dealings in local mines, has come out 
to look for him. Mr. Alton of Somasco will probably stop 
right where he is if he is the sensible man his neighbours 
seem to think him." * 

„ "That's correct? " said Hallam, glancing at Deringham. 

..' "*w, who you were when I saw you." 
Yes " said Deringham. " The taste is questionable, but 
1 can t deny its comparative accuracy." 

"Then," said Hallam, "Alton stands between you and 
this Camaby property ? " 

^' I believe so," said Deringham quietly. 
It's a big estate?" said Hallam, and Alice Deringham, 
who knew his capabilities, wondered when her father would 
ettectually silence this presumptuous stranger. In the mean- 
* .' XT .; ™wever, showed no intention of doing so. 
. No, he said languidly. " It is a small one, and heavily 
in debt. I presume you know rancher Alton by the interest 
you show m him?" 

"Yes," said Hallam, " and I don't like him." 

Deringham scaioely glanced at his daughter, but she 
realized that her presence was not especially desired, and 
when she rose and went back into the building her father 
glanced steadily at Hallam. * 

"I wonder why you told me that," he said. 

T f-f r^ M^u- "•i^*'!!' ^ generally talk straight, and 
I feel like that," he said. " Now, they don't keep fnything 
Uiat doesn t bum a hole in you here, and I've a bottle of 
English whisky. Don't see any reason why you shouldn't 
take a drink with me? " 

" No " said Deringham indifferently. " I am, however, a 
somewhat abstemious man." 

Hallam went into the building and returned with a cigar- 
case and a bottle. The contents of both were good, and 
Denngham sat languidly glancing over the curiing smoke 
towards the glimmering snow. It towered white and cold 
against a pale green, shining high above climbing pines 
and dusky valley, while the fleecy mist crept higher and 
higher athwart the serried waves of trees that fell to the 

42 



HALLAM OF THE TYEE 

river hollow. Alir^ ru. • t. 

the wonderful fre hne^"hfc'«^ ''' ""'' •'"■"'"ng in 
and permeated the sM^nce of thT' "^T" ^'°"' '^^ Akl 
of that great white ramDart^ ^1/t"^^' ''^^'"^d a little 
wondered vacantly wha7fh^ t^^^"' '"*"''y- She also 
were talking about; but in thf.fr '"'" °" ^e verandah 
overcharged with Western vfvacL'''' *'°",^- ^°^ HaHam 
father waiting quietly. ^'""""'^y' *as talking, and her 

affect^ion'of ^Srvere\^i„-f '^^?i° the subject with an 
figure he don't like me Nothin„ °" * '"''^ ^'to". and I 
I know of, but I'm not fond of "^T? *'"^ *e man that 
way, and Alton of Somasco 1« » ■"^'^''^ '^^° &ets in my 

"Oh. yes," sTfd" he'the^'^*"' ''"'"'y- 
sees, but the trouble is he does^t'J'P"''-'"' "^ ^" as he 
Now there's not room enoup-h fl »^ "^""^ ^ar enough 
round about Somasco and a nn/t. ^'^° '"^" ^^'h notions 
men with money so Alfnn'. ""r"]""* ""ancher can't fi^ht 
contract than ife cln car'^'^^ °^ f ^°°d dea?biggr 
l?ke r*; r^^' ^ ""'"k of y^„;''S^ Anyway, now ^^e 
hke that let right go of me '' *'°"' ^^^ ^"^ « you feei 

Yering-ham smiled a little "Ti,- » u 
best wh,sky I have tasted nCanadI""' ^' ^'''' " ''^ the 

Hallam laughed " w«ii '• l . • 
especially as ?ou'li noS stoXJ^'? ^'^^ ^ ""^^ you, 
fte mineral resources of the countrv rt ''"^•. ^"'^ ^'^e "p 
■nation lymg round that should S" ^/?' '"'^ "^ infor- 
way, you made a big nifstake wh.n "''^"' *° y°"- Any- 
Dropped a good mfnv dollars that ^?mJ°^''/P '^' P«^^^"- 
, Denngham's face ^ew a trifle • "'^' „'^'^" * you ? " 
know just what the mfstake c^.f ^"Tk ^^ y°" Pi-obably 
denymg it," said he. * '^°'' "" "'^^ is no use in me 

comeoul'Ltp,?„S;Whetically, "one can't always 
I may be of some use o vou L^"^^'"^ '^°^" «t Vancouver 
"P to-morrow I'll show Ci the TvV° "^- t." y°"'« ^°me 
better still up the valley." ^^^^' ^"^^ ^ ve something 

43 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

"I'm sorry," said Deringham indifferently; "I'm going 
through to Somasco ! " 

Hallam glanced at him steadily. " Of course you are," 
said he. " Well, I've told you nothing Alton doesn't know, 
and I've letters to answer. You'll excuse me ? " 

Deringham rose with him, and strolling along the 
verandah together they stc-.ped a moment at the door, 
close by where Alice Deringham sat at an open window. 
It was growing dark now, but the last of the afterglow was 
flung down into their faces by the snow, and it seemed 
to the girl that the resemblance between them had grown 
stronger. Her father's appeared a trifle less refined in its 
chiselling than it had been, and there was a look which did 
not please her in his eyes. It suggested cupidity and cun- 
ning in place of intellectuality. 

" Well," said Hallam, " you'll call on me at Vancouver 
anyway, and it's possible we may be some use to each 
other." 

"The hint of a confidence or understanding between them 
which the man's tone conveyed irritated the girl, but she 
saw that her father did not resent it. " Yes," he said. " If 
I think I can benefit by your co-operation in any way I will 
not fail to let you know." 

Hallam went in, and D.ringham aned upon the 
verandah balustrade smoking tranquilly .ile the shadows 
that left the rolling mist behind crept h ; .er and higher up 
the climbing pines until at last they touched and smeared 
into dimness the ethereal snow. Then the girl rose with a 
shiver and turned towards her father as Horton lighted the 
big lantern at the door. Deringham's face was, she fancied, 
- trifle haggard. 

" I wonder why you have borne with that man so long," 
she said. 

Deringham smiled a little. " There are many kinds of 
men, . d presumably all of them are useful in their place," 
said he. 



U 



CHAPTER V 

THE HEIR OP CARNABy 

rode down the winding trai"into hf 1^ ="•* his daughter 
g-rl gazed about her with eaJer° r^ Ti'^" ^""''y- The 
rode m silence apparemlv .f ' '""P?"^' l""* 'he man who 
when his horse stSmbled into a rut ^h"i\'"'', " ^^"^ °"'° 
for a moment abstractedly A 'u ^e glanced round 
occupy his mind just then fo; u,^^'"^''^'" had much to 
ftood that he had'made the iouTnev' a Tu^'^'^^^y ""der- 
r-ecS^ei!;^ ''' --- ^^^^^&'&^; 

of no business capacity, and as it .wf h ^^^^^ «^^"tlemen 
to remain on good terms wi^h 'tsu-ted the family lawyer 
very perfunctory accoi^t oThi, .'."' ""i^l^^ ""^^ 'ha? a 
manded. The late owner of cLn.T;'''^^'? ^'^ ^een de- 
s.mple tastes and unbend'n^ uZ \^^i ^^^ = man of 
tempt for his kinsman and ?e lin'^H °. ^^'^ ? ^'''"' ^on- 
spectmg finances while there wa, n. . ""^ '""^"^"^^ «" 
There were one or two me„ who „? fPP¥^ °^ «"PP«es. 
had profited by his relativ^'c ■ ""P^*"*^^ that Deringham 
vague surmise! and'tey did"^.'"^"'' ''"' '' ^«« °n'y a 
bequeathed him had uSe r^ore th.n °^ "'"' *he le^cy 
Dermgham had been unfortunate fn h" f^^'''"^ ^^'»e 
and could foresee consideraWe ^ffi„ L^" '*'^?' ^<=n""-es, 
self from a distinctly unXatnr. ? '" e''t"eating him- 
decided to take imme^diat" possession'^rv " '^' "^^ heir 
^tier had, however shown „T °/ his property. The 

Deringham had acc'eDted^ r ^'?^'. '^"'''^ 'o do so, and 
to ascertain his intXt '^°"""''='°" ^om the trustees 
company of which he was one of the promoters had 
45 



Ill 



ALTOX OF SOMASCO 

also invested somewhat unhappily in Western mines, and 
JJeringham, who purposed to see what could be done with 
the depreciated securities, intended that the expenses of his 
f2it"i",J" 'he mountain province should be borne bv the 
shareholders. He had acquired considerable facility in the 
art of managing them, but the owner of Carnaby'was an 
unknown quantity and Deringham was anxious. 

Presently his daughter reined in her pony. "Stop a 
moment, father. That mt< ' be the ranch.'^she said. 

Itie man drew bridle, and for a moment forgot his per- 
plexities as he pazed at the scene before him. Far down 

shin^nV"'' '"m * "•' '''"* '"•*<= ^'"^ => ereat white peak 
shming ethert.illy at its northern end. Dark pines rolled 
about It, growing smaller and smaller up the hillside until 
they dwindled with spires clean cut against the azure into 
a gossamer filigree. Between them and the water stu- 
pendous forest shrouded all the valley, save where an 
Oblong of pale verdure ran back from the fringe of boulders 
and was traversed by the frothing streak of a river whose 
roar came up hoarsely across the pines in long pulsations, 
♦fc,; ■» ^" Deringham saw at first sight, but he realized 

that It was very beautiful, and then commenced to note 
details with observant eyes. There was a sawmill beside 
«! ^u^^^:, ^°' ''^':°"'d faintly hear a strident scream and 
Me the blue smoke drifting in gauzy wisps across the hill. 
The square log-house which stood some little distance from 
Uie lake looked well built and substantial, and the road 
that wound through the green oblong had been skilfully 

itll, . ». '■°i'"*^i'* ""•" ,'=^" °^ 'he great fir-trunks, 
bleek cattle stood apparently ready for dispatch in a corral, 
the yellowing oats beyond them were railed off by a six- 
foot fence, and behind the rows of sawn-off stumps which 
ringed about the clearing great trunks and branches lay piled 
m the confusion of the slashing. Deringham was not a 
farmer, but he was a man of affairs, and all he saw spoke 
to him of prosperity that sprang from strenuous enW^gy 
and administrative ability. ^' 

youyhinkfng?'-'^ '"'"'■" '''' ''^ ''^"^•""- "What are 
Deringham laughed a little, somewhat mirthlessly "It 
46 



r 



THE HEIR OF CARNABY 



". we shall see him iM li'"...*".?"'"'*"'-''. he said. 



occurs 

hcS' '^-^^e' &wl."ar:rshl„''£? : -itch she 
psture of cold disdain. "Ttwoui ^T .' '" u"*"" ^''^ « 

difference." "'' "'** " "wk" any great 

.inS^e'^^carteortad'^"' =" 'P"/ °f -'-■• 
who had long been oroCd of A ^"^ °"^ °^ *«= nitons 

of the landholdin^ ra« were stS,"."^ ^/v""^ ""= '""'""^ 
No"" «hp «;^ -fi. ,? strong within her. 

you c^uld ltVo^;w?e\%a;i ! y?Tf"'^«-«on. " And 
a laughing-stock at Carnaby " • "'"^ "^^ ""^"^ '''™e'f 

Deringham smiled again. " T am " i,- .^m « ■ ,. 
feel sorry for the Canadian hL ' ^e said, inchned to 
to him." (-anadian, but you will at least be civU 

"S^do^'Siri'shouMt ^"*r^ °^ '•""-"-- 

said. »"PPose i snould be openly resentful?" she 

w'hSfwir^e'esr "I 'Jo not 

will have cause to reg"et heT'an A., """'l '^^ .Canadian 
doubt it would be somrioIaJ ♦ '^"°"' ^^ '='d- "No 
his offences, but I scarcely th[nV>^°" m J""''" ^im realize 
Then th..v r^^il ^i ^ ""^ '' "'°"'d be advisable " 

anIt"twS lu^'Ai:Z^^\,T'- ^''^p/oSfields. 
under the boughs of an orrh^r^ I """'^ *""'*'' 'he fern, 
house. Nobody came out to • ^"•'^ "PJ° ""= ^luai-e 'o&- 
their call, and DerSmH;!m'"^'f'^'' I''"'"' °'- answered 

47 




ALTON OF SOMASCO 



Ihis IS worse an^ worse," she said.' 

couver when you wish " sa"d he "V^* *m? ^°,°" *° ^*"- 
I se. if there Is anySy all? " ^" '"" ""^ ^«'' *hile 

fell to work agafr, Dermgham a moment, and then 

of'ih?Fr'a':;r '• hi'sfr"' &an"^ *"' 'T ^^"^'^ "''^ ^'^^ 

Alton as soon as jSssib.e " he'Taid ' ""'"^ *° ^^ ^'•• 

betT'r%S.naThe''""tevluo;-^"'Kr."^''-. "^-^ 

tak°n"f"f rpeddfer" norTf^ "'"^^^^ ^* '-'"^ ">- 
straw any j:fln;.Znt'L^'^T^ hldt*^'"^ "•) 

him aV^l'frsu^ppe^rCt'^^f.r;"^ ^^V^' ^^ 
he said. *™ ^ *° °° with this one? " 

'■Now, where did you come from?" said the nfh«r 
Inats lUst what wp rln 4 r ,• " '"* Other. 

48 



'''is£3f '»*■■■" ■■ '"*'* -^ '" '«» 

to manaee him •'. • j , * woman with a ^: uf i'* * wel 

went i^ ani' ^^^ood for now ?h,T ^°i"^ °^ '*- but 
me. it'wa, J'"^'^''^ l""* HarrT aSh ' •"'^'"« the axe 

doctor'toTd hSf ^r '"""^ ^°<"i^hne s t^'^h*.''^r ^'^^ 
about one fM ^^'■'■y ^^omes to me .'v ' •*"' ^ben the 

. "Hf doefthl S'oT th'-'" ^^^^ he- '°" ^■"^' 

ham curiously. '^'"'^ "^ 'hmg sometimes?" said DenW 

''"t Se d^Wlt^ *''^ °*«'- dryly. " He H • 
HarilfS,.'"™''^'^ wouldnVsqueSe t?n '* '^^^'^ ««*. 

r°" going to be LTn"* *° ^'^^ it him Bu? h'n"*1 °"* °^ 
. ^Asr^a°iT■a4''atfow,.-•• ^^'^ow long are 

^°? -d the other. " W 1°^ fe'^-'^'y- 

4g y°u Will do presently 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

wages Z ff'i'!!''nT °\'^'' '^^"'y- ^'"' «' t° "«*«= -"y 

wages yet, if 1 ve only got one handy lee, and I can nut 

" " Z'lZ'^'J.'n' ^T' "''° *^''''' ^haTway to"m'e" ' 
, 1 m sorry, said Deringham grave y. " I have vou see 
just come from England, where folks are not alwa^s^so wdl 
paid as you seem to be. I think I will look for Mr. Alto" 
Can you tell me where he is?" 

buJh'"' " Hl-r'''° ^PP^^'l^'' "".yi^^ """"'fi^d, pointed to the 
blame me^VeS'"' '"' "' '^ ^""^ y°"' y°" -«=<»"'' 

eir^le^w^rt^il'?*' *''" ^^y *?:'''^'* *« ^'^-foot fir-stumps 
girdled with tall fern, over a breadth of white ashes and 

charcoal where the newly-won land lay waiting for the 

plough ,n and out amidst the chaos of trunks^ that av 

^t^ f'Zu'^ ^^^^ °^^^' ^" '°™d the clearing and stopid 
dose by three men who were making an onslaught ofa 

n^l ^"^^^ tnem, and the great trunk ran a stupendous 
column to the vault of dusky green above. It was, however 

s^^JTfor':''" '"°^V^«^«'='!d Deringham's attention aTd he 
stood for a moment watching them. 

= Ir'° "^f- 5°'?*^ °" "^'"'■°"' '^^■■ds notched into the tree 
a mans height from the ground, and one was hu« and 
swarthy, so that the heavy Ixe he held seeme7a toy^?n h°s 
great gnarled hand. The other, whose figure seemed in 

h Ini n -^ u °'"' ?^''" '^ *°"gh he were examining 
It, and Deringham, who could not see his face turned 

a°biV saw °' His"o° '%''' '"^ '^* °^ *«= tree'sharJeS 
a Dig saw. His overalls were in tolerable repair, whill 

wor^ them n"!'\'°"''"''"f.'" his face and Te ^aThe 
Stmh.T^ Ylu^H^T '^' him down as an Englishman. 
i>tijl he did not think he was an Alton 

Can you tell me where Mr. Henry Alton is?" he said 
The young man nodded. " Harry! " he said. 
Ihen the man on the plank above turned round and 
wfth tfc ^t -"^""^^ '".^""P =^ he stood face to flee 
1ft inS u ''^"Lr ° S^"^^y- The man was grimed with 
W ,fn. ^ ^^- "" "i"^ ^''"'^ """"^d hack to the shoulders 
left uncovered arms that were corded like a smith's, iuid 

5° 



was ren.?r ^^^'^ ""^ '^^'^^^^ 

finely-arched ^Xls^^Ue n^^ ,?e""ffham could see fh„ 

^Yes," said the other quLTy 
trailing the vvro'Ii^"'' ^ '"i" ^'^"^P °f you wJif """f'" 

'hinp oVe/ w1th'';r^''^-,,tl'r "' ''-ve come to ta.lc 



ALTON OF, SOMASCO 

hS;^^rcl:i^^^,^:l^:;^e, forest-shrouded 

tmmm 

Presenth the In '" 'rfu*"^ °^^'- "'^ '^^"<=hant steel 

he said " qL Mi^ ^^ ''^"^'' ''■■aw aside a little " 
here/' ' "'" '°'"' ''°^" '" ^"""^er minute ju^t 

n.an poLTtVt-he^S^^^ when the 

hesaid^°" ' '"'""* *''" •1"^^''°"- how do you know?" 

The other man lauehed a littlp " w,,„ ♦ u 
he's seldom more than^a foot o?" he s"d "^ "'"^ "'' ""'' 

52 



J 






„ THE HEW OF CABNABV 

I,, u^l ^"*" the ereaf fir • ^ '"^ axes down anri 
lU'-ched, and fell a„Kl\-.^ quivered a little f!, f ^ 

-^h^sat down agSn. '^"'^ ^^"'-harpener laughed™ 
, ^ "at, said Derin^ham J < ., "^ doesn't want tn " 

ten "' '^-^arv-:-'- £5 .^. 

s5o*°'"s*;'' "»• !■• i" "™ """ ; s"=™i» " 
"■tiJoi" f^"" "" '"'"' °' "*-= ■-»" p- 

-re together, and thc^ft £ :r;-;^ ^s paS 

" a shght sense of 
53 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

7^i»s^>a^llBH!r 

a. ct,. 1^ appearance ahd attitude disarmed her but 

msmmm 

tax of mS.° hJ «ua "^ "•''"' •» *'• P"' 



54 



CHAPTER VI 

said reflectielv " r^'S"''?";"^ ^''^n I am comfn.r 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

mother suffered helping him. Oh, yes. I can remember her 
well, gentle, brave, and patietit as she was, and know what 
It must have cost her to camp down alone in the bush, and 
hght through the hard winter in the ice and snow. Well 
she was too good for this world, and she just faded out of 
It before the good time came. I think they must have a 
special place for women of her kind in the other one." 

Deringham only nodded again, because this type of man 
was new to him, and he had learned to keep silent when in 
doubt ; but Alton's big right hand riosed into a fist. 

And now, when I have Somasco, the man who had not 
a dollar for his only son leaves me Carnaby," he said. 
There. Look out and s.-e. Timber, lake and clearing 
cattle, mills, and crops, the finest ranch in the district. Nly 
father commenced it, and I have finished. The Almighty 
made him a man, and he wouldn't sell his birthright to loaf 
hjs days away, overfed, at Carnaby." 

Alton dropped his cigar, and laughed a little. " Well, 
1 m_ talking like a fool again. There are times when I 
can t help it. It s a way of mine." 

Deringham sat still smoking, and thinking rapidly. He 
had never had dealings with a man of this description 
before, but while he surmised that Alton of Somasco might 
under some conditions prove himself a headstrong fool it 
was evident that there were limits to his folly. The man's 
handiwork spoke for him, and his energy and intentness 
had not escaped Deringham's attentions, while the occasional 
utterances that might have appeared bombastic coming 
from other men were redeemed in his case by the tone 
of naive sincerity and imperious ring. P ,'ngham was 
becoming conscious of a vague respect for i . fear of his 
companion. 

. " y^'^ ^^^ apparently no nearer the answer to my ques- 
tion, he said at length. 

"No," said Alton, smiling. "This thing will take some 
thinking over. Carnaby isn't exactly what you call a rich 
property ? " 

" It is heavily encumbered," said Deringham, almost too 
eagerly. 

Alton nodded. "Still, it must be worth a little, and 
56 



ALICE MAKES FRIENDS 

Z^P «"= '°^^ -ho lived there a standing ,„ .he o,d 
astpSdl^^^S^JStr^' and .as once .ore 
daughter: Jjf, g iSs to L"^' '"^'f '""^ about your 

a trace of stiffnisf ""= ''"=^"°"-' " «'<! Deringham with 

quuito^L-tVrre 112^ n '■•^"ted it. "I don't 
good deal what my Mother harf tn ? "=•=• -^ ^'nember a 
made me kind of sorry for ™^en P^ T '"'"'. and it has 
the things they have been uTed t" Nnw^M-'°^° '^''"'O"* 

^'A ghaTiwrrr-^^^^^^ 

think we^eed'g^ll^'ha't^t-^.s'lW "I scarcely 
l^he^'oss of Carnaby would 'n^-kW^ire-nrtX^'te' 
derl^smlLft tVe-^^^-^ f,- wHj, ^eringham lo„- 
for a very little thing that hanneneHT ''l^^ '^^P' '^ but 
he said. " If the juniper-twl^f h!^ k "1°""' °' ^-o ago," 
paved considerable Vou'Se to f^eXdvl" '' T"'.*^ "^^e 
m the mountains looking for a K t;^ "''"' '^^'' *ere 

Silver mines are I undpr.t,li ,' y°^ see." 

the man who finds them"andTsho^;,"°' always ?^°fi'able to 

hlirfcr ^'-' ''"'^ ^- ^ot-i^eSeV'-sai^^ ffi^^ 
^^Uonjaughed huM^^^^ 

gomg to be, and if^I could -tth.i" m''*' '^'^ 'his one's 
good deal for Somasco!" he fa d « w'"'' ^ *=°"'d ^o a 
mills, the biggest orchard in%ht •^*' -ant roads and 

"'"'•" """"'°"' "»« «»"i™. i«. I »m by „, w 

ST 



u 



AI.TON OF SOMASCO 

Well, there was a good deal of snow up in the ranges, 
and my feet got away from me one evening when we were 
crawling along the edge of a gully. There was a river and 
big boulders some five hundred feet below, and I slipped 
down, clawing at the snow, until 1 grabbed a little bunch of 
juniper just on the edge. Part of it tore up, but I got a 
grip of a better handful, and hung on to it, with most of me 
swinging over the gully. Charley was stripping off the 
pack-rope on the slope above, and he was mighty quick, 
but I knew that bush was coming away with me, and didn't 
think he could be fast enough. I didn't feel exactly happy, 
but while I've read that folks think of some astonishmg 
things when they're starting out on the long trail, it wasn't 
that way with me. I could onlv remember there was a 
man Id never got even with who'd badly cheated me." 

Deringham felt a little shiver run through him, for there 
was a grim vindictiveness in the speaker's tone, and he felt 
that Alton of Somasco would not lightly forgive an injury. 
I You managed to crawl up? " he said. 
" No," said Alton simply, " I didn't. I lav there watching 
Charley, and felt the bush drawing out, until the rope came 
down and Charley hauled me up. It would have made a 
big difference to Miss Deringham if he'd been a second or 
two longer. Well, we'll have lots of time for talking be- 
cause you're out for your health, and we'll keep you right 
here until we see what Somasco can do for you. and just 
now I see Miss Deringham alone on the verandah." 

He rose, and left Deringham sitting by the window. 
The moon had swung higher now, and the lake was a blaze 
of Sliver, but Deringham scarcely noticed it or the ethereal 
line of snow. In place of it he saw a shadowy figure hang- 
mg between earth and heaven with tense fingers gripping 
a httle bush, while a river frothed down the black hollow 
five hundred feet below, and remembered that even in that 
moment the man who hung there regretted he could not 
repay somebody who had cheated him. Then he rose and 
moved once or twice up and down the room, his fancy still 
dwelling upon the picture. If the juniper-twigs had yielded 
it would have made a great difference to him as well as his 
daughter. He sat down again presently and stared at the 

58 




'^HUNDRED';EET''B°LOW...i°;^,'>jf SOME FIVE 



I 



^u 



ALICE MAKES PRIEXDS 

^m«comrg^tSafk?o.h' remembered that Alton of 

she also breathofi ,„ M.^ ?^. *^-^ shadows of the bu,h 

fs^StS:^„^t^^-?i^r--i£.ta^: 

"o great difficulty Tco - ! f- '"''"f '^ '" his face, and h"d 

klu 1 7.'^ ^''" he noticed th.M-.*'! ^^'"' amusfrert 
held half-covered in l,., if V' ^""^ "f i silver ro-. -V 

and silver she stood out araincf u * harmon es of blue 
59 






ALTON OF SOMASCO 



• 



venture to express pity for her was galling. Still, she had 
no intention of admitting it, and regarded him inquiringly 
with a half-contemptuous indifference which she had found 
especially effective with presumptuous young men in Eng- 
land. Somewhat to her astonishment it apparently had no 
result at all, for Alton returned her gaze gravely and with- 
out embarrassment. 

" I don't understand," she said. 

" I was hoping you would, because I felt I must tell you, 
and I'm not good at talking," said the man. " I can't help 
seeing that you a,-e vexed with me." 

If Alton had intended to be conciliatory he had signally 
failed, because Miss Deringham had no intention of ad- 
mitting that anything he could do would cause her anger. 

" I am afraid you are taking things for granted," she 
said. 

Alton smiled gravely, and the girl noticed that he ac- 
cepted the onus of the explanation she had forced upon 
him. 

" I really don't think you should be," he said. " I can't 
help being Tristan Alton's grandson, you see, and we are 
some kind of relations and ought to be friendly." 

Miss Deringham laughed u little. " Relations do not 
always love each other very much," said she. 

■' No." said Alton. " Still, I think they should, and, even 
if it hurts, I feel I've got to tell you I'm sorry. If you 
would only take it, it would please me to give you back 
Carnaby." 

The girl almost gasped with astonishment and indigna- 
tion. " That is a trifle unnecessary, since you know it is 
perfectly impossible," she said. 

She had at last roused the man, for the moonlight showed 
a darker colour creeping into his tan. " I don't usually 
say more than I mean." he said. " Now we shall never 
understand each other unless you will talk quite straight 
with me." 

Alice Deringham had not lost her discretion in her anger, 
and, since there was no avoiding the issue, decided it would 
be preferable to blame him for the lesser of his offences. 

" Then," ahe said coldly, " it was somewhat difficult to 

60 



ALICE MAKES FRIENDS 

tasteful in the Colonies " '""^'^«"' """""s as to what is 

fair, ' he said. " I am what/h. a i • ? * *'""'^ *at's quite 
bushman who has had to lorfc too t'^ 7"'l"''' ^ P'^'" 
learn to put things nice v hutjZ °' *"' "^'"^ ^o 

meanness that would hurt a ^"^^ ''^"^'^ ''°«'n to any 
need for a daintTEnglish ,adv ToT' f'^ ""^^^ ''"'' any 
between herself and me " ^ P°'"' °"' 'be difference 

-.•d"tjr,ra^rt^ Siou:,r"r -'-^ - ^-^^•" 

Carnaby." 'duciousiy. You are Alton of 

jmpaSc:,' ':^ t sTneTitha'^ ^"*,"^^ °' P"''« -d 
became him. " I'm Alton J q^^ "^^^ f°''ced to admit 
>"«• I won it from the lake ™''th/';' "^^-.^^ gave It 
crawhng in again-but I'm getting off i°T -^"'r ^-^^ 
know your father was cor^nlherf and hL'".' '• ^ "''^"'t 
who you were." ^ ' ^"° "adn t any notion 

^.;; That's curious, because he wrote to tell you," said the 

Alton flushed a little fr.^ i, 
tempered, and too proud Vob^ otL^' 'T'^'^hit quick- 
man. " Well," he said s, .wlv " T nrrjl'^"" ^ ^''^"''^' 
mg you I didn't get f.e let'ter "^^h! ^^ ''°"?"^ °f *«"- 
Somasco down in Vancouver" ^ P'^=« ""^d 

ciein;rfa?^tfdtd:ots,Sr\^^^^ r^^'' -«- 

to admit that she had gone farther thf""" '^^ ^''' ^°'^^d 
wh,ch somewhat natura!°v increased w7^f ''"''^ ^"'"'y- 
the man. In the meanwh,"e she h„ ''"P'^^-'"'-« against 

teach me." ^°°^ a«al more that you can 

6t 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

Alice Deringham could not afterwards quite decide why 

te.rht^ '''"''' r'^ ^'""- ^°' '^^ had no intention of 
each.ns ii.ni anything, just then; but she did, and felt as 

J L J'^i^''''''"*'"^"' "^"'^'^ "P°" ^" o^-" that the friend- 
sliip of this curious man could in time of necessity be relied 
upon. In any case, and obeying some impulse, she shook 
off her chilliness, and asking questions about the district 
evinced a gracious interest in all he had to tell her, while 
presently induced by his naive frankness she smiled at him 
as she noticed him regarding her gravely 

fh"/ P'*^,^"'"^ ='.'''"es» of this kind is scarcely suitable for 
the bush, she said. 

Alton laughed. " I wasn't looking at the dress, though 
Its a very pretty one," he said. "You see, except my 
English lady'-' ^°^"''^'=^''' ^ ^ave never spoken to an 

her,-' "slii'the gi>f "'"' "^'" ""'' ^°™^ "•'^" y°" '-' 
Alton took off his hat, and pointed to a hillside shrouded 
witn sombre firs. 'Yes," he said quietly. " She sleeps up 
there and m a little while my father followed her. He 
7nrlZ^^ """/""i I'?'' ^"^ '^'^^"^^ °f ^hat she had done 
trika,:^utZm.'°' "" ~""'^>—- He often used to 

mi'st^kln ? "^"^ ■^"" °^""e''^"'' " y°" wondered if he was 
Alton made a little gesture that in a curious fashion 
implied a wide chivalric faith. " Xo," he said gravely, "I 
believe he was right. >= J'- ^ 

Miss Deringham felt a faint warmth creep into her cheek 
and It was not because the speech might have been deemed 
a personal compliment. She saw a little deeper into the 
man s nature than that, and, if she had not, the tone of 
grave re.spect would have enlightened her. Then she turned 
the verandah.'""' °* ''''''^ "' Deringham came out upon 

fril'i^I^i P'^^'-'f' "? l^^ =''"" ='"'• '^^'"- Alton have made 
triends, he said, and the girl, who noticed a faint twinkle in 
his eyes, turned quietly and looke.l down the valley as she 
remembered one odious clause in the will. 

63 



ALICE 3IAKES FRIENDS 

Pa-rs of old boots went e-vratin^ *? ""'^ "f it several 

."wl" "f^- ^^^'"^'' disturbed 

bin. sp^ f-",;^™- ^oes Mrs. Margery ,eep the scrub- 

wfttf^Xrs "^..^-J' "^ T-" back into the dust 
"J°P and paf, when a .r^e.nTtv"', ''"'■™^>' carrying L' 
f'>e chest. He dropped t L^ 7, ^ m"''^^" ^"'°te him upon 

C^sar, anvw{;:"M/'^.';: ■'»'•'' Seaforth. "Not on T V 
'•- fif to li^hin"- ^^■■" "«" ^ '■•«'« ".ore tanung ite 

hi.n. be"aus:"'o.ni °:,,!rf ^"f "/ I""'' -Vou can .shove 
>-"'re going to wire vlnco.f;;f for ^^'7-."^ '^' " ' "^' 
he teams „p the vallev FoTrh "*"'' ^"""'^ "^ with 
tart ,n „,■,!, „,e scruW ing 1'^ J^ '^"^ ^«er, ^nd 
ha no guess we've been doinJ .m?J- "'""* ^^"*'= f^^ring- 

ff she doesn't hear v.> ■• fv 1 •c'''?«^ "niisual." 
veryeaf." "'^^ >""■ ■''•■"^' Seaforth. " .she must be 

'"^j pH^;;r'd,^:::'v,s'St2 "'^^^ "'-'^"* ^^ 

.. ' am going to the w,.M fi ... . ™"'" ''"<^ts off" 
'■-^.ri„„in/a„i^il!:^''i«-^^-;'S..orth.who-^ 



63 



J'led softly 



as 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

she heard the cautious movements of a big barefooted man 
Houndering about clumsily with a brush or mop 

When she came down to breakfast, however, she was a 
little astonished. The room was swept, and garnished with 
cedar sprays, while though it smelled of some crude soap 
the aromatic sweetness of balsam was present too, and 
there were signs of taste in its decoration and the disposi- 
tion of the splendid fruit upon the table. Alton had not 
plucked It all, and the golden apples and velvety peaches 
l?^t. *'l^ *^"' *°^* ''"''"K enhanced amidst the leaves 
When he came in, bright of eye and apparently glowine 
from a plunge in the river, she glanced at him with quiet 
amusement. ^ 

'"You have been improving the place wonderfully," she 
said. 

"You are pleased with it?" said the rancher, and the 
girl noticed the contentment in his eyes when she smiled 
approvingly. 

"I think," she said, " it is very pretty." 



CHAPTER vri 

ALTON BLUNDERS 

however, flid „ot cau.P hin, ^ " '"' "'* "wner. This 

had at his doctor'" eeolen■:hfion^'^""^T• •"^^-^ '- 
what le>,gtln- absence f r n K ?, ' , ''''"' '"^ "" => s°'-'e- 
regaining health and vi™ w N ' ^"l' ^"""'l '"n.self 
the pleasant vallev. He wis, ' ' Hr'"" ' ''"> ''^' P^"<^'' ■" 
because he had left ne^ ia.t ^ t ^h^f ^•■'''"■"'^' '""«• 
company to take over an enf^r,^?' . formation of a 

train, an<l, while these con nf "^ ''^' interested in in 
a favourable tern'":;, n ';i"-;;;^ ^-^ -<-" --thout him. 
•mmediate financial anxietv enable l,im/'"*^ ^'"' ^""^ 
visable to adopt a firn,er tone in am- 2 " ''""^'' ="•- 
SS'. Alton had in the n^eSlf ^-f;;^'l,S';;:? 

«i^t:^;:Sti"„!|'^'^:^^;-en he sat one evening 
down the vallev. It was er " ,t ' ^^'f-'''^ ""^ and then 
of white mist crept aCu the ninj "'."• '"f '■■^"'- =""' trails 
light still hngered hlXm n^^^^^^ "'ough the paling 

was growing into v s,b i n • ""?'■ ■'' <^'cscent moon 
behind the eastern sh,nlt'*-f:'^.;r',;''e -Steely blueness 

was listening for the thud o ho", "7'"«^''=','"- bowevcr, 
mounted man sent down to the s^/ft . " ""'''"'''"Sr if the 
letters for hi,n. His dajlw !f/'7^''"t,»'0"!d bring any 
watching the -larkness of Irfe, T '■, ^""'- '^'^"^'^^ 

stay here ?■•• she s::;r' '" '"'" f'"-^' " ""w long shall we 
I don't know," said Deringham 



65 



' It depend? upon the 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



I 



Canadian, and in the meanwhile I am picking up a good 
deal of useful information about the mineral resources of 
this country. Alton of Somasco seems to be a somewhat 
intelligent man." 

" Yes," said the girl thoughtfully. " It is a little difficult 
to dislike him." 

" I," said her father, smiling, " do not know that there is 
any great necessity, or notice signs of a marked endeavour 
on your part to do so." 

The girl glanced at him inquiringly. " You mean ? " 
said she. 

" Nothing," said Deringham. " Only the Canadian is 
also a man. Well, we shall be going on to Vancouver 
presently." 

The girl laughed a little. " That is incontrovertible," she 
said. " Why not go on now ? " 

" There are reasons," said Deringham somewhat gravely. 
" For one thing I hope to be in a position shortly to make 
terms with him." 

" But Carnaby is his," said the girl. 

" Yes," said Deringham, " unless he gives it up." 

His daughter appeared thoughtful. " I scarcely think he 
will ! " 

Deringham laughed a little. " It might be possible to 
find means of inducing him." 

Alice Deringham shook her head. " From what I have 
seen of Mr. Alton, I fancy it would be difficult." 

" Well," said Deringham dryly, " we shall see." 

He had scarcely spoken when a soft drumming sound 
came out of the stillness. It grew steadily louder, was lost 
in the roar of the river, and rose more distinct again, while 
the girl, who realized that a man was riding up the valley, 
wondered with unusual curiosity what news he would bring. 
She also grew impatient, for that staccato drumming seemed 
to jar upon the hrrmnnies of the evening, and she walked 
to the balustrade when the sound swelled into a thudding 
beat of hoofs. The man was crossing the oatfield at a 
gallop now. Then the sound rose muffled out of the gloom 
of the orchard the trail ran through and she felt curiously 
expectant when once more the rider swung out into the 
66 



limn i^lllWliiMIIMMIlll III III ' III 



ALTOX BLUNDERS 



shadowy clearinc ^ht* f* 

apprehension witl', wZh .Z'''^'^V^"''^"'^''^'i 'he vague 
seemed to her thas;nentan<ribr." '"" "''<^"^d, fofi? 
w.th the sallopin^ ho" e "' A '^^'^ f.P^'-^^.^' ''fawing nearer 
ca- jmo the verandah .i^'^tZ^::! fe^f^t^ 

iiffhlm some'of'Ihem and^l"' "'[•■' ''^ ^^'^' handing Der- 
•• 1 larry." """'■ =""'' I^^^ed mto the house shouting 

chiSj^z.^ S ;*:zy^ i:"!!-^ ?-^ "'^ ^ce 

hps and the ch.stering winkKonM ''"''' "'^ ^'' "^ his 
a elegraphic message, b, t I c n„ t • f"'^'' "^here was 

bulky envelope whose stan n h '""''^ *"<' °P^"ed a 

""^fve he tiok out r„ t?e 7a httir"*^"!'"''-. ^h^" 'he 
read: """'^" a httle in his hand as he 

I Mort;"err'i:'''vou"^-;rt"b;7ncr l"™^^^-"^ -n. 

I spondcnce, demands a evihiatfon 'i ■ .'°P'<='' "^ <^°^^e- 

advisable before he will ,,„'■"" "'h"^h would not be 

Deringhani lai, low" the ^7'" "J-'u?^ *^ '^^Pi'al." 
^uddenlv at his 'e'l::^;^, ^ t,^^"^:; ^^^ his daughter turned 
bought him off! "he said °'^ should have 

■\^^'^TjlX,,,Zu^ message and read, 

'mer. Harper and ule Svn ^r.^ "'P™'"'"" ^"''h Mor^ 
following." ^ ^indicate against us. Details 

"loved. " I have." he s."id "tT- "^ ^^" "P"" him, 
that .It least ten thou.sand pounds li^lLT''"^" '"^"™' >"« 
o>>t of my pocket. ..\s t h™ 1 r ''''" ynmUy taken 
somewhat badly" "appcned, I wanted the money 

"f'^ 'The='?^n::;;:::"CL'r"" r ^''^ ™--s out 

H'-a„d,a„dDe^^-l--rm:;:f^Jlii3 
67 




i^-^ne^ mrsm-v^^F 



ALTOX OF SOMASCO 



after him. The financier's face was not pleasant just then, 
and there was a curious ghtter in his eyes, while Seaforth, 
who was following his comrade, stared at him as he passed, 
and came up with Alton on the verandah. 

"What has gone wrong with Deringham?" he said. 

" I don't know," said Alton lightly. " Do you think 
anything has ? " 

" '1 "lat." said Seaforth. " is what I am asking you. He 
Ic ':,?d condemnably ugly just now. One could have 
f.'.icicd that he contemplated killing somebody." 

Alton laughed. " Got a little business trip up, I expect," 
he said, and moved forward as he spoke. " Here's word 
from Mrs. Jimmy. She wants to know when I'm going to 
begin. Women are very persistent, Miss Deringham, but 
this one has some reason." 

" They usually have," said the girl. " I do not, however, 
know Mrs. Jimmy." 

" Of course." said Alton, smiling. " Still, I expect you'll 
see her up here presently." 

It was a day or two later when Alton returned to the 
topic of Mrs. Jimmy, and he was then kneeling in the stern 
of a canoe which slid with a swift smoothness down the 
placid lake as he dipped the glistening paddle. Miss 
Deringham was seated forward on a pile of cedar-twigs, 
with a wet line in her fingers, and in no way disturbed by 
the fact that she had caught nothing. Such expeditions 
had become somewhat frequent of late, and though the girl 
sometimes wondered what she found to please her in the 
company and conversation of the bush rancher, the fact 
that she usually went with him when he crossed the lake 
remained. 

" I have seen that trail of smoke up there before. Where 
does it come from?" she said langui'lly, ]jointing to a dis- 
tant film of vapour that drifted in a faint blue wreath along 
the slope of a hill. 

" That," said Alton, " is the Tyee mine." 

" I have heard of it. They find silver there? " 

" Yes," said Alton dryly. " They find a little." 

" There is silver in those mountains, then ? " said Miss 
Deringham. 

68 



ALTON BLUNDERS 



Alton nodded •• r ^f t ■ 

-^, Miss Derf:fc,'°'"'^''v. or they would not go on " 
Alton laughed a little " Ch 

air:,; '..!f» p-r£Tp «.""^z'S; 

Well," said Alton "flfr L "^"""ection." "^ *> 
machine too, and must wo7k 'ifk? f^^ P'-« in the ^reat 
t'"ng to make it more fn.itti t ^'^ "" ^"'' ^^ ^"",1 
good earth gives them " ' '" '^'"'"" ^"^ 'he food the 

-id Mf^teg^;- ''-•' -m to realize the obligation - 
A ton nodded. "No h„t r . . 

-e that' ev'e'y mani; ent,.td'to*ail"'?h' .^T,' ^* ^^-^ t° 
by workmg for them honest v°n ^u ''?"^" ''« ^=" ffet 

"P and look for it as hp «,,. ' "^ ^^^ "le grit to Pet 

for the man who want, to si Zf^'l^S"- ^"' '* ^^^ ^o use 

w-^ile other folks woi foThlm.-'"'' """"^ ^'«"' '"'^ dinner 

69 




^ 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

" Still, he may have earned the right to do so " said the 
girl. 

" Well," said Alton grimly, " most of that kind I've met 
with seemed to have stolen it, and one or two of them had, 
for a few thousand dollars, sent good men to their death. 
When you've seen your comrades sickening and starving 
on rotten provisions in the snow, or washed out down the 
valley by the bursting of a dam that was (jnly built to sell, 
you begin to wonder whether it would be wrong to wipe out 
some of that crowd with the rifle." 

The veins swelled on his forehead, and there was a 
smouldering fire in his eyes, while the girl suspected he was 
alluding to some especial member of the class, and noticed 
that his eye seemed to follow the smoke of the Tvee. Then 
he laughed. 

"I guess I'm talking nonsense again, but there's a little 
behind it, and I feel that you can pick it out," he said. 
'Now I'm not good at amusing women, but you and Mrs. 
Jimmy seem to understand me." 

Who is Mrs. Jimmy, and does her husband belong to 
Somasco? " asked the girl, with a smile. 
„ ^''°" ,j3'd down the paddle, and took off his hat. 
" Jimmy," he said solemnly, " is dead. He was my partner, 
and his wife is a friend of mine. She was in some ways 
very like you." 

"They had a ranch up here?" said Miss Deringham 
languidly. 

No," said Alton. " It wasn't often they had ten dollars. 
She was a lady bar-keep down in Vancouver before she 
married Jimmy. He was a trail-chopper in this country. I 
don't know what he was in the old one." 

" ^nd," said Miss Deringham, " Mrs. Jimmy resembles 
me .' '■ 

She regretted it next moment when she saw Alton's face. 
It expressed subdued surprise, and the girl felt irritated 
with herself. 

"Yes," he said gravely. "Human nature's much the 
same at the bottom, whether it has gold on the top of it 
or the dints of the hammer, and Mrs. Jimmy was good all 
through." 

70 



ALTON BLUNDERS 



irost and snow, and the win,l .1,^ J-' . ^^^^^ was only 
P'nes, and. until it froze ud^V^' '^^"^''^ " about the 
from the river. They we/e de! y"",? '^°"'' ''<=^' °" ^a Lon 
sorne of them rotten.'^ ^ '''="' "'h^" *= got them, and 
^^A|s^Derin^ham shivered. " And when the river froze? " 

'■ved''on"'noth;nVand ^Trt'^i "'!'.t'"^ ^^^^ <!->■' when we 
P.ck to keep frcfmthnC Still ""'" ~"'''" ' ''"''"he 

was there." ' ^ '"' "'<= ^'^"■nR. though we knew i? 

" Wen."''ainl;or<'S^'s'" r' ^^-^ Oenn^ham. 
crawled in starv^J "^e dav anflM"''' T ^"^^^^^S- He 
"ver we fed him. For anmh.r ■ ""S^'' "'^ hadn't much 
we were on the ri^ht [rail " "' """^ ''' f<^" '' '" us that 
inat. said thp .riri "i 

Alton nodded, "^o--. ufZT'T"'^ P°=»''We." 
lip there in the bush th-if tu • ^*'"' one pets taiiirhf 

»"n^e folk-s thinlc "f a 'hL'rea'sorw Z," ^ "'-" 'han wL 
fifi-ht, and were beaten " °"- ^ ^"' "'^ "^ade a tough 

his quLt!'SS';^^'^,/:f j;^ ^°T^?>' -" noticing 

^-^o^he:£S;-a--^r^ad^m^hang 
71 



MICDOCOPY tESOlUTION TEST CHART 

lANSI ond ISO TEST CHART No. 2) 




125 I 1.4 



Kl^l^ 



^ APPLIED IIVVIGE Inc 



1653 East Main Sire 



ALTOX OF SOMASCO 



h 

r-' 

u 



had piled up a few dollars and left the woman behind him. 
He took the trail with a good outfit and a pack-horse, but 
he didn't come down again, and when IJrs. Jimmy got 
anxious I went up to look for him. It was a good while 
before I found him sitting under a pine, and he had found 
the silver, though it wasn't much use to him." 

" Was it a rich vein ? " said the girl. 

" Yes," said Alton solemnly, " I think it was, from the 
specimens he had brought along, but, and it's difficult some- 
times to see why things should happen that way, he couldn't 
tell me where it was. Jimmy was dead, you see." 

The girl shivered visibly. " It must have been horrible." 

" No," said Alton gravely. " He was sitting there very 
quiet in the snow with his hand frozen on the rifle, and there 
was a big dead panther not far away ; but I was more sorry 
for Mrs. Jimmy than I was for him. Jimmy hadn't always 
been a trail-chopper, and one could see he had been carry- 
ing a heavy load he brought out from the old country. I 
think he was tired." 

"And the silver still Ucs hidden up there?" said Miss 
Deringham. 

Alton nodded. " Yes," he said. " I've hunted for it 
twice, but couldn't find Jimmy's trail. By and by, and 
because the woman wants it, I'm going back again." 

" But it would belong to anybody who found it now," said 
Miss Deringham. 

" No," said Alton quietly. " A half of what I get there 
belongs to Mrs. Jimmy. The dead man has a claim." 

" I am not sure that most men would think so. You are 
generous," said the girl. 

" No," said Alton. " I'm just where I can, and it hurts 
me to owe anybody anything, whether it's a favour, or the 
other thing." 

Miss Deringham understood him, and reflected as she 
glanced at him out of the corners of her eyes that her father 
would do well if he dealt openly with this man. She fancied 
he could be remorseless in a reckoning, and she had now 
and then of late had unpleasant suspicions respecting 
Deringham's intentions concerning him. 

Alton took up the paddle, and the pair found Deringham 

72 



ALTON BLUNDEBS 



dust with the precision^fThe „S<. ''^''^'i *e whirling 
Deringham could see with ,,nf^^ i"** ^''^^ handled. Alice 
waste of effort here The ««.?." "^ T' '^^' 'here was n, 
passed straight forward ovfr the rfnf''"' ""'.^ '" ^' °"e end 
no deviation until thev went ^v! "'."«^ '■°"«'"s. and made 
and whirring saws v^h^se strln? P''""^*"^- Silent men 

Ste-fttrisl?^^^^^: 

saidher'faThen" *° ^ ^ -"emarkably well-laid-out mill" 
-n^"' Wd.^ 'il'^,, ;We shal, : ave a bigger one ^ 
planer, and she cost me a oi of^ n*" P'"""^ "^ " the 
down all round before I couM h„'^°l"'-. ^ ^ad to cu? 
I pu led her all to pieces anTfi 5? *''^ '^ing, and then 
, Alice Deringham followed h''^ 5"u"P "y^^'f-" 

p^^s^rSd^^-V^^^^^ 

ness^ AltonX-e'llfe^dS^- polished i^l ^ 

^^i^^s^:'^':j:iJ^^' rjt was a tight ,t 

J^-e turned to a stoo^i^ ^ ^^S^^^ £?h^^;' 

4':whi?h"'w\t„"otr£sa!,'t^r'^"'r.* ■•" '"^ ^n. 
relaxmg the pressure hi c. T^' ^"^ 'hat, in place of 

strenuously "^n the' tnk hfiv j'^T' ^ "«'« '""re 

she^aw, for the next moment tLE.'^""^ = ''"* "'=" ^as all 

wh.rn„g, and a cloud of w^dv du^t ' V''' ="'1 ^ '°"d 

Alton sprang forward th^u^gh^t ^d ^"Sl t^ 'iSt 

7i 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

suddenly stopped, but the girl could never clearly remember 
what happened next, for the dust still whirled about her. 
There, however, appeared to be a brief altercation, and as 
Alton moved towards him the other man dropped his hand 
to his belt. Guessing what the action meant, Alice Der- 
ingham shrank back with a little shiver, and her father 
appearel to grasp the man's sl.julder. Alton swayed 
suddenly sideways, and then hurled himself forward, while 
next moment two men fell violently against the wr^^cked 
machine. One of them seemed to be helpless in the grasp 
of the other, and staggering clear of the planer they went 
reeling through the mill. Then there was a splash' in the 
river, and Alton returned alone, breathless and somewhat 
white in face. 

" Sorry, but there was no other way out of it," he said 
a trifle hoarsely. " Now IVe got to size up the ruin, if 
} )u'll excuse me." 

Deringham turned away with his daughter in time to see 
a dripping object crawl out on the opposite side of the 
river. "Are you still pleased with your tame bear?" he 
said ironically. 

The girl laughed a little, though her colour was perhaps 
a trifle higher than usual. " There is a good deal of the 
beast still unsubdued in him," she said. 

Deringham nodded. " Still, he had some provocation, 
and I think he was right. So far as I could follow the 
discussion, the other man meant to question his ability to 
dismiss him, with the pistol." 

Alice Deringham said nothing furthc- upon the subjVct 
until Alton joined them as they sat out on the verandah 
that night. " You are not pleased with me? " he said. 

'' There is nothing to warrant me telling you so, and I 
may have been mistaken," said the girl reflectively. 

" No," said Alton, " that's the pity ; but couldn't you re- 
member just now and then that you are friends with me? " 

" Things of this kind make it a little difficult," said Miss 
Deringham. 

" Well," said Alton, " that i.iachine cost me twelve months' 
grim self-denial, and the fellow broke it out of temper 
because I spoke to him." 

74 



ALTON BLUNDERS 



or bolder man than him '" '""'^ ^"^ ^^''^ => ^"-""ge-- 

tothX^t^'^ '•'- - ^Ht i^:^l^:^^^-i 

-^d,H.e to. but rm .^'i^Ty^'^t.XC ^^ I 

tha^Tout^e^TeS^^^ "I'm not sure 

H.yhouHer, and ,ou wo^n^l'^ exjectei m"'^toto1 

'-■-^TlltTuIZt'^Zt would have 

;^H. th4 wnu,;f^-^t/:2i^^s^^::^^^ 
"~ s S zj ~ r r ^^^^ 

action." ^ '"^*' ^ somewhat disinterested 



75 



CHAPTER VIII 



HALLAM S CONFEDERATE 



It was about the middle of the afternoon of the day fol- 
lowing Alton's affray with the workman when the cook 
came limping into the verandah of the Somasco ranch, 
where Beringham leaned, cigar in hand, against a pillar 
talking to his daughter. She lay in a hide chair Alton had 
found for her, listening more to the drowsy roar of the river 
than to her father, but she lifted her head when the man ap- 
peared. He carried a tray whereon were displayed a badly 
dinted metal teapot of considarable size, two large, flat cakes 
of bread, a can of condensed milk, and a saucer swimming 
with partially melted butter, which had resolved itself into 
little lumps of whitish grease and a thin golden fluid under 
the afternoon sun. He laid them un the table, and after 
deftly picking out one or two dead flics from the butter 
turned to the girl with a grin in which pr'de was evident, 
though it was apparently meant to be d':;precatory. 

" I guess this is the kind of thing you were used to in 
the old country. Miss," he said. " You have only got to 
tell me if you would fancy a piece of cold pork or other 
fixings." 

Alice Deringham dared not glance at her father, who 
seemed to be gazing fixedly down the valley, but her lips 
quivered a little as she turned towards the man. 

" I do not think we shall want anything else," she said 
with a serenity that cost her an effort, though it was excel- 
lently assumed. 

The man limped away with the tray, though he stopped 
again at the foot of the stairway. " If you take a notion of 
that pork after all, hammer on the iron roofing sheet there, 
and I'll bring it right away," he said. 

Alice Deringham waited until he was out of sight, and 

76 



HALLAM'S CONFEDERATE 

Savages, my dear!" hi said "Sfiri .1, • ■ 
are evidently kindly which f. n„f .' ^^J"" '"'entions 
volves us in a difficulty '' ""fortunate because it in- 

" A difficulty?" 

n.abl?&an"°l'see;'s \7lol T'f" ''^' -• -''" 
enough for Somasco should r.t' "'=" ^^^^ '' goocl 
offended if we sl^ht^H M ^ ''°"',^"* anybody, might be 
parently co„rains'af feast'" hre7p,-^f-/r ""' '^^P°' ^^ 
he sa,d. "I do not know whether v, ft °"^, ^'"" '«»'" 
■ng half of it, but if it is the sn^r ^f^' '^3"^' '° <^°"="'"- 
must be excused. One could ako fn ' f^'' ^t, breakfast I 
that those cups had been' ntenrf.rlfT^ ^°™ *'''=''■ """^ity 
. '' I can at least pour ?he tea overTh h',"""*^ 1'°"=' ^"h." 
gTl. " It is the bread that presZ, t. H^m''?^^' ^^'^^ 'he 
crumble in your pocket and'^^^!.-,,** difficulty. It would 
a h-ttle to save appearances ''^ """ P'-^^^^bly have to eat 

tio??hafyr d"ot ^u^er 7 al "-n^r ^■■°"- 'I^" -di- 
victim, though I fancyyou couW nn. ^°'"& ^°}^ '^e only 
a stamp battery. Thfs meal .nH I'^f"'"'''^ *at bread in 
seen at Somas^o. conL^ 'iy'te^ry'trt "jr^t""'^^ 
make money in the Colonies mnW f,^ ' '^^ ^"""^ who 
Eng^nd if Ly livedt"a"irar' Son ""^''' °^ '"°^^' '" 
^_^. Would It be worth while? " asked' the girl with a little 

;• p;rUa.i;TrziirnoX%si°"'"^''T- 

fancy that a man of taste wnnM .rS. \ -paeed, one could 
which is why I will 't'ake Tvery iMe'of 'th"'^'''' ^^""">' 
our mode of life in Ene-lanH ,,lf I , '"^ *^^- You see, 

extent upon mVreSg'ihTgo?d"wn/' ■of'PM"''Vr°'"^ 
Somasco. He will however if, ^ ? °* ^'■- Alton of 

his butter." ' ''°^^^^^' have to excuse me from tasting 

emSd^';i!eP°roveVSbai;sf 'T '"VI' ^P^' ^^ then 
pened, a blunder, because while ,hf'' "f""^ ^"'' "' ''' ^ap- 
a small portion of thTb^at^!^ ^^-^"[h^ [--^e 

77 






ALTON OF SOISIASCO 

that she had been eating it, Alton and Seaforth came into the 
verandah. 

The latter glanced at her, and, for he could not help it, a 
little smilL llickercd in his eyes. 

" It is a very long while since I had afternoon tea, and I 
am not sure that Harry ever indulged in it in his life," he 
said. " I will bring some more cups if you will give us 
some." 

Dcringham looked at his daughter reproachfully, though 
his eyes twinkled, and for just a moment a Hush crept into 
the girl's face, but she laughed as she said, " Then I must 
trouble to ask the cook for more water." 

Alton hammered upon the suspended iron sheet, and in a 
minute or two the cook appeared again with a large plateful 
of sliced pork which he laid down before Miss Deringham. 

" I was figuring you would change your mind, and if you 
want any more you have only to ask for it," he said. 

It cost the girl an eflfort to repress a shiver of disgust, but 
though she succeeded Alton saw her face, and she noticed 
that the bronze grew a trifle darker in his forehead. It 
seemed that he guessed her thoughts, but the fact that he 
oflered no explanation and made no excuse for the unin- 
viting fare pleased her. She fancied she understood his 
reticence, and that it became him. 

" Take that pork away, and bring more water ! " he said, 
and there was a faint ring in his voice as he turned to the 

cook. , , . 

The man, who took up the teapot, shook it, and then, as 
though still incredulous, lifted the lid and gazed inside it. 

"More water?" he said. 

" Yes," said Alton, a trifle harshly. " Get it right now ! 

The man went away, and there was for almost a minute a 
somewhat unpleasant silence. Even Seaforth did not seem 
to know what to say, though he felt an absurd desire to 
laugh, and Alice Deringham was at once relieved and some- 
what astonished when Alton put an end to it by i whimsical 
story of a raw Englishman's camp cookery, i ;aforth fol- 
lowed it w'tli a better one, and the whole four were laughing 
when the cook came back again. He smiled at them reas- 
suringly as he put the teapot down. 
78 



HALLAM'S COXFEDERATE 



lie said. " It's that 



full \ ^"T, ^''""'^ '^"'"'S'' "'is time ' 

full could sc-aadv jj.t %, li,, .,n •' ' - 

->oke, but^h:^:' w:f ;;*":i;'^:,;;: """ •'- ^^-g of the wood 

fhe had made full at,; a Mlt ' Jauglitcr felt that 

half emptv. The. \ZV. "''7.*'"; -^'^t ''^r cup down 

-4- ••'^:r^'^:^ai;:^ --« ^ -M answer n,ore 

. Well," said Scaforth reflcctivelv " T f 
>f >t s any comfort to vou I tl I H- ?'^ ^°" ''°' ^"'^• 
considerably less of a f,, , iti, I,, ^''"^ '^"<^^ ^^o- He is 
this countr^ m&"t supp^ 'C/f L" ^ .''^ "°' ""lerstlnd 
■f he can prevent it yKl 1 ° ff^v''"' "'^.P° "' ''• '^at 
kmd again." ^ "°' ^"'^'^'^ ^n mfliction of this 

affliction, or do you s^ppoJ lam v'''''"i"'f '^'^^ '* '^^' =" 
indifferent tea? " '^'^ ^"^ '^^'■>' f"giitened of a little 

Seaforth lauehed " r nnV ( 
the cook seems to conclude and T\^r f°. f°"'' °f '' ^s 
exactly the word. A roni^er onf ' '^"l'' '"'''fferent was 
Priate. Still, though I am not s«r^ T'^ ''^' ^''" «PP^°- 
me, I told you becate I elU v^s du:Vn°H ^''" ""^^«t-"d 
h.s attitude was really the corrl^t „ ^I^'"'"-''- Y°" see, 

round I am rather proud of him " °"'' ""^ '^'''"^ ^im ali 

feeling is shared by evervlx-d; in M • "' r °"'>' '''^t the 

sheer presumption.^ SwfnVvn '^ ''"'"''' '' ^°"'d he 

He went away because he h-,T,""''- """'^^ "<> bush." 

would be wanting him which was h '""^'"°? "^« Alton 
his comrade sadciling a horse "^ °"' *''^" ''^ f°"nd 

througll^witHheTawToS-he's^^d. '''' ^^^ "°' '>^" -^ 
79 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 






" No," said Alton dryly. " Still, if you work hard 
enough, you and Tom should get them into the water before 
it's dark to-night. I'p- going right down to Morton's." 

Seaforth laughed. " I thought you would. Horton has, 
however, as much taste in china as the average mule. Don't 
leave it to him." 

" How did you guess that ? " and Alton stared at hi'n. 

" That," said Seafcrth. " was delightfully simple. It is a 
little more difficult to dec.de what Miss Deringham, wl o is 
a quick-witted young woman, did with the tea. As you are 
quite aware, she did not drink it. Still, thai is not the ques- 
tion. I'll write you out a little list of what is wanted — I 
used to know a little aboi t china once, you see, and you tell 
Horton to send it on to Vancouver. How much would you 
care to spend, Hai ly ? " 

" Just whatever is necessary, but get the best," sai 1 Alton. 
" Write another list of cakes and jellies and things of that 
kind, too. Put down plenty." 

Seaforth returned by the time the horse was saddled, 
with an envelope, and Alton, who took it, rode out at a 
gallop, for it was a long way to the settlement, and the 
evenings at the ranch had of late become very pleasant to 
him. He did not wish to lose a minute of one of them. He 
drew bridle, however, \vhcu he came up with two men stand- 
ing in the narrow tial one of whom signed to him. He 
was a small rancher, but it was not until the impatient horse 
plunged that Alton recognized the other, who moved aside, 
as the man he had thrown into the river. The rancher saw 
the glance that passed between them. 

" Hallo ! " he said. " Then you two had trouble when 
you split? Now, Darner was telling me he'd got kind of 
tired of saw mill.ng." 

Alton laughed. " That's quite likely," he said. " He 
showed it by breaking up my planer in a fit of temper, and 
I fired him." 

Then he touched the horse with his heel, and Damer's 
gaze grew venomous as he watched him ride away down the 
shadowy trail. The rancher evidently noticed it. 

" Now I begin to understand how you got your jacket 
tore up and that lump on your forehead, he said. " I 

80 






HALL.IJIS COXFEDF.RATE 

had oMained the horse he wanted „ ^ Y'- ^°'' '^ °^"'^"- 

road he would in airprotebm^y hive left7 *""' '° '^'' r^' 
would have prevented aTnrl^K t . the country, which 

stiff with fatigue Each ^fm^nr '"^^'"S for the railroad. 

he aJ^ghTl\Z\^^oT?igTt%^et:v"een^^^^^^^^^^^ 

dfw' wast hi"/7 "■''^'^ ^"-^ stm/ther^pneT^on?e 
th. f^ f }u ''""y ?ra™ents, and he sliivprcd a litt e in 

™r?js^s ^Jis-is^ .-^^r tx:^iiz^ ^'^ 

and tumbled for his tobacco He wr i ,i •■ ^^ """"^^ si'ii, 
wa^and s.oke. he said, a^d th^n ar.!. t'' Asttro.1;: 

8i 



iH 



- 'i 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

As it happened, he could not find the tobacco, and having; 
a hazy recollection of laying it on the ground tlie last time 
he filled his pipe, he shook his aching shoulders :ind trudged 
on. The loss of the tobacco decided him, and with a male- 
diction on Alton he made for llorton's. It was also a 'U';- 
ful decision with far-reaching results he made just then. 
Supper had long been cleared away when he entered the 
general room of the hotel, and then stopped a moment w ilh 
his hand on the door, for the one man who sat under tlie 
big lamp was the last person he desired to meet. He had, 
however, some papers .spread out in front of him, and 
Darner decided to slip away quietly, but as he moved the 
blankets on his shoulders struck the door, which rattled, and 
the man looked up sharply. I le had a fleshy face, and black 
beady eyes, which he fixed on Uamer, who stood still, with a 
httle, unpleasant smile. 

" Come right in ! " he said. 

Damer smothered an anathema as he recognized the com- 
mand in the tone. " No," he said. " If you don't mind, 
Mr. Hallam, I'll be getting on again." 

"Come in!" said Hallam, a trifle more sharply, but for 
just a moment Damer remained motionless. A few steps 
would take him down the verandah stairway, and then the 
shadowy bush lay before him. Had he had a horse, he 
would have obeyed the impulse which prompted him to 
avoid the encounter ; but, as it happened, owing to the fact 
that Alton had met the rancher who would otherwise have 
l;nt him one, he had none. So with evident unwillingness 
he came slowly forward, and dropping his bundles on the 
floor flung himself into a chair. 

" Well," he said, " I'm here." 

Hallam, who had been watching him, nodded reflectively. 
" I guess you didn't expect to find me, or you wouldn't have 
come," he sa'd. "Where were you going?" 

" To the railroad," said Damer. " Out of the country ! " 

" Without telling me ? That was kind of foolish of you. 
Still, you haven't much sense, anyway. You had quite a 
well-paid job at Somasco." 

" Well," said Damer dryly, " I haven't got it now." 

Hallam laughed, though the glint in his eyes did not 

82 



' ^ 



HALLAMS CONFEDERATE 

>ou. while, now 'lc^a.^„ok at voi'Tl " '1 '"> '°° ^'« '"^ 
forehead that makes tU , 1 qui" "p la^ ' v'"T°" {^^ 
fooling with Alton and li . ,n« •,„ . ^ "; X"" ''^^= l^en 

you. 'still, what do 'ou^ wantTo 'T'.l^ ""= "'*= °".' "^ 
anvwaj?" ' " '° '^e '"« country for, 

tab?e"™TI.:^ te 'ta^^tZ ",' """ "^'^ «"«"' °" '"e 
glanced at Hallam "'*^ deprecatory gesture, and 

you-^wl!,n^^ ;!e1a!:r ^:1^;'yf '""^'^ °- P-"t where 
but r kind of fee it in me AZ'J '" "f- '"/"'' '°° «=a»"y. 
myself by worrying aC "sti^'^Vr'tTh''"' 'T'^''^ ^°' 
I'm afraid of. Tve met tou<rher n'L '''"'/''^ "'=" •'™self 
of them." touglier ones, and come out ahead 

Hallam sat silent a moment, for he ' .«, ft,, 
and survev packers who u^TjJ ,, • "^ '"^ prospectors 

" v« -— , n'' """""^ with him before' " he sai. 
les, said Damer " I Htvo h. .. "e sai' 

with an axe back ^,e e in \v4ini,nn ' T^ P"*"" ^n 
rush in the liaker foothil .n,l ?? ?' J' """' '" *e big 

i"g in with us ; ZnTA";^ir:.^td a^L""""/ ''""/ 

man made most of five thous^and°;;^l,:?3' o1^ro?t^ Xm^J 

called Xailer mixed up in the affafr' " *'™ ^ '^" 

" He'li^^mTpan^nt ""^.^ i^'i^e STh' *^ ^"'^^^^ ""'^- 
wouldn't have worried anvhnX ! • ^f "J?™- ^"^ Alton 
his nerve that night Soi^th^nt^""' 'J ^""''' ^^'^ ''^P' 
spring of his Winchester^nd^Ahn"' 'y?"^ ^'"^ *e 
another chance " '"'^"^''^'^-^"d Alton didn't give him 

>i wXi^'gi::'itrX-n^'^^' rr-'- 

affray in question n !, T. "^"^ what he haa read about the 

83 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 






wisp of smoke that drifted about a little tent. He remem- 
bered with an unpleasant distinctness the crash of the rifle 
shot that rang amidst the shadowy pines, and the grim face 
of the man who whirled an axe that glinced in the moonlight 
about his head. He saw the flash of its descent — and then 
brushing the memories from him stretched out a hand that 
shook a little towards the whisky on the table. 

" Well," he said, " I owe Alton a good deal, and that's 
why I went up to Somasco when you told me, but he has 
been too much for me again, and now I feel it in me that if 
I'm wise I'll let thnt man alone." 

He drank a little whisky, and sat still, staring vacantly 
before him with a vague apprehension in his eyes, while the 
strained tenseness of his expression and attitude was not 
without its effect on Hallam, and it was unfortunate he did 
not yield to the impulse which prompted him to let Damer 
go. He, however, shook off the fancy with a little, impatient 
laugh. 

" It's not going to suit me to h<.ve you slipping out of the 
country," he said. " I want you right here, though it would 
be quite easy to find a man with twice the grit you have in 
you. You let Alton whip you off your claim in Washington, 
and — for I've a notion of what has happened — 'most pound 
the head off you yesterday. Now you want to light out, 
leaving him to laugh at you ? " 

Damer flushed a little, and a look of vindictive malice 
crept into his eyes as he rose. 

" That's about enough ! " he said. " You're quite a dif- 
ferent man from Alton. I'm going on." 

" Sit down ! " said Hallam sharply. " I'm quite as dan- 
gerous to you. Take some more whisky, and listen to 
me, though I didn't think it would be necessary to go into the 
thing again. I was with the men who found Gordon at the 
bottom of his shaft on the Quatchigan." 

Damer appeared irresolute, but he sat down. " Nobody 
knows how he got there." 

" No? Well, I have a notion, and I guess Tom Winstan- 
ley and one other man could tell." 

" Winstanley's dead." 

Hallam laughed. " Still, the other man is on my pay-roll, 

84 



HALLAM'S CONFEDERATE 

gesture as one who abandons a strujrjrle "'*' 

„ I guess that takes me. What do you want > " he said 

swept his g/an/rrounl'l^e'r;;;, eelnT^'nl^tan" "he did' 
Then'hT,"n ""'"^ V'' °PP°^''« -d with h'is b^ck to him 

shoeing ••'&'„ -"'u^^rr- '"'' """' '^°^^" *"« ^t-i'-y 

the S'of the store "'" '"'"" °"' ^^°™ ^ =hed ai[ 

plile^Harr';"""' " ^'"^ '"^- ^°" "«^^"'' --« the whole 

store. He had meant to leave the countrv hnt foVr t, j 
hrd"toM V^°"L'°^'^™- ^"^ ^emembeS'what Ha„am 

amidst the great desotetion of the ranges ^"" °^ '"°^ 
8S 






',1 



CHAPTER IX 



I 



MISS DERINGHAM FEELS SLIGHTED 

The morning was still and almost unpleasantly warm, but 
Miss Deringham looked very fresh and cool in her long 
white dress as she lay in a deerhide chair on the verandah 
of the Somasco ranch. She had hung her hat on the back 
of the chair, and a shaft of sunlight called up an answering 
brightness from the coils of lustrous hair. One foot in the 
scantiest form of slipper rested on the lowest rail of the 
balustrade, and she had slightly curled herself up in the 
chair in a fashion which implied a languid content with her 
surroundings, and that there was no longer any need for 
ceremony between herself and her companion. It is possi- 
ble that Miss Deringham was aware of this, even if she 
had not intended to convey that impression. 

Alton, who now wore a new jean jacket buttoned right 
up to the neck, leaned against a pillar, answering ;he ques- 
tions of the girl, who glanced at him with a smile occa- 
sionally. He had, as usual, a good deal to do that day, and 
nowr and then turned his eyes tov/ards the sun, as though 
noticing its height above the cedars, which did not, of course, 
escape Miss Deringham's attention. Still, he lingered upon 
the verandah, and what she deduced from this was not 
unpleasant to the girl. Though it still returned at increas- 
ing intervals, she had almost forgotten her antipathy to the 
man, and the fact that he was rapidly yielding to her 
refining t 1 sometimes chastening influence was indirectly 
flattering. Miss Deringham experienced the more gratifi- 
cation in using it because he was quick-witted, and a veiled 
rebuke would bring a little darker colour into his sun-dark- 
ened face, and she could forgive his oflFences, which were 
indeed not frequent, for the sake of his penitence. 

" You have been very patient," she said at length. 

86 



MISS DERINGHAM SLIGHTED 

%T;:tx€ €^""f »-'.X^!?'"- 
me to stay right here andilk'to y^u Ji day •'''°"" ^'^^^^ 

Still, I sSrcely think vofwn']'' ""I f "' "'^"^ '"'° ^"^ds. 
tunity. We are eot/nn ^ '"'""'' '""S^^"" 1^^^^ ^" °PP°r- 

Awjerf Slraf^^,,;; ^^."^.t- -onten'enced Mrs. 
not slay herf?or ever"' ^ " " '^''''"* "^^' ^« =a"- 

hea''rdTsSliS"?''4"t''%*=°"^P^?'°" ^^^^ ^"e 
bu^you couM wa^? for ^n°othe^^ ^^If ^^^ .i' ^''^ ^ P''y = 

mifs "ul teJ-^- -"^^ - ■■«'- '■ You^d Charley will 

ne^'i°„"hi°'eyes ^te ""V"''^ "^^ ^ ^"^ued bright- 

fully. She fancied'h*;fs"'pu"w c'" 7"'^.,"^^" *^- 
upon himself " I ^n.„'t 7 P"«'ng considerable restraint 

better thTn'l' can'for"h ^ tl S'^^^ "^ "" '^"^ 
time," he said. " This h^fwn I "''?". "iiss you all the 

feel that it is good forn!;^?t7ktVr'Xn\'"f ''"' ' 
came I had a kind nf hin„r fo . ■ ^ . ^"*"' before you 

folks in EnghnT I Lured thel'"*^ '^""'' ^" "^^ f^*er's 

„2jP" "''"• *'"■ " ^°" '»=y >« ™y h.,= b„„ 

The man's face flushed a little and th^r. 
evidence of the self-restrain "Yes "h/ V?^0"ce more 
know I was a fool " "^'"^- ^"' be said srmply. " I 

He might have said a good deal more, and lessened the 

87 



;i 



!' * I 



' ALTON OF SOMA SCO 

r«J'*'/°''v'''? Deringham had seen his face and read the 
respect m it, Its smcerity touched her, and she felt with a 
vague uneasiness that it would not be pleasant to face his 
contempt if he found it misplaced 

And yet you take your father's part?" he said. 

^p^Jt|^.:^^t^zS;th;Y{;»;:lt^r 

•' Y«^' «'i°I'?.'''^"'" '^'V^^ «'■■' ^''h a little curiosity. 

unvilld n^ W^ T"'.?!!^.u*^y ^'P^ '^^^' ^"--d. and died 
unyielding. Well, I think they were each right from their 
wc.y of looking at the thing, and that being so thercouW 
only do what they did, and would respect elch other for it 

7^U ■ ^'^ m''' ""^'l' '^' '°"!? t"" «"ds. My father was 
righ in holding to th. woman who loved him, and I thTnk 

M « n'°" ^^'^ " ''^"^ ^' '-^f' Carnaby to me." 
Miss Deringham seemed thoughtful. The man's ^im 
code of honour, inflexible as it w^as primitive, Caused ^™ 
for no apparent reason, indefinite misgivings, and she made 
a httle ges ure of weariness. " I think," she said/' it w"uld 
be better if we did not talk of Carnaby, and I was wo^der- 
X'winTp"[2ntr;.?.^"^'^ '° '=^"='' ^ '-' " ^''-e ira°"ittL 

she^was"inM'.1[i'''^ a correct rendering of her thoughts, for 
sne was in reality desirous of ascertaining whether the man 

''° W'e l°"f °'"'^-!]'^^ P'^f "^^' '»'™^' ^'^ work aside '" 

v.. 1 ' ,'i^^said eagerly, " I shouldn't wonder if it would 

^d 'hnfh ' '^' P''"'^'' '° ^"^ "P- •'"' 'hat could wait a Httle 
and— but here's someone coming I " ' 

ww'' ^^'^"Shiim was conscious of a trace of annoyance 
when a girl rode out of the orchard on a wiry little ponv 
She was dressed neatly and rode well, though the somewhat 
scanty skirt was evidently not the ^ork of a habtoaker 

nof at'thelfmiT^Iv' "'^t'"' "'"'f *^ P'^'" straw hat^ud 
not at tne limit have cost more than a dollar • nor did -she 

wear any gloves, and her hands were brown! whUe her face 
betokened exposure to frost and wind and sun It was 
however, a comely face, and Miss Deringham noticed That 
the girl earned herself gracefully. It waf also curious Ihat 
88 



MISS DERINGHAM SLIGHTED "*! 

together, and Alice D^rWham smflL •*"''''/'^^ ^^""dah 
d.d not pledge her to any ex^re ™ tn '^ ^,^''''°n ^^ich 
presented the stranger ^^"^«"ie good-will when Alton 

^^.^Miss Townshead/fron, the ranch back yonder," he 

-^^^^^^^^^^'^o i-Portance, and 
which somewhat Lton"shed her ^h"' '"^^ ^'^''^ ^"^^<='-. 
modulated, and the intonation free frl^'w°'f \'= "'"^^'^ 
and unmistakably English Western harshness 

we hld"a:i^!tr:^rvL-^/;-- It '■-. 'r^ *■■- -« 

you pleased with this coumry ?^ "^'^"''' ^''^ ^^'d. "Are 

enthu^Ls^r^fefeif; Alt^^^^^^^ 7,^°^ almost 
are also especially kind " ' '^^ ^^'^- " It* inhabitants 

No," said the e-irl " w^ i. 
Jack is seriously ill tnd Tm^ 1^' 'however, heard that 
has broken awa'y, Ldl found trtrain"."- "" ^^^-^ =''- 
va..e^„Itwasoneofthetal?s1:^lit-^^^^^^^^^^ 

far^'rsall:sTrai."^^htr'r^=h"^''H^" -^ "- "°' ^°- 
head the beast oflF before it 5ts' in^' fh"';^• ?^^"' ^' ^«»t 
he range, and there's no time o In ^'r'n ^'J"^" ™der 
two minutes. Would you like L ml n^' -1"^^ ^^^^y in 
Denngham?" ' ""^ '^ '°"ow with Charley, Miss 

hor^e'oulTftt'stabl^'tlH^r .^'^T^'^^ ^hen he led a 

- Alice I^eri„a-S=tt:™^H^,r,rS 
89 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 






M- 



I 



iii 



III 



she was not angry. It appeared that her angling was of 
considerably; less importance than the capture of the steer. 

It was possibly for this reason that she was unusually 
gracious to Scaforth, who came along just then, and though 
evidently in some haste, stopped to talk to her; while when 
she had promised to accompany him to witness the chase, 
and he strode away towards the stable, her father sauntered 
out of the house and glanced in her direction whimsically. 

" It occurs to me that one of us is responsible for some 
irregularity in the work upon this ranch, and that the beast 
it a trifle uncertain in his moods." said he. 

" It is," said his daughter, " a little difficult to understand 
you." 

Deringham pointed to the two mounted figures just 
entering the brush, and the girl fancied that something 
had ruffled him. He could be unpleasant when that 
happened. 

" .'Mton of Somasco is a somewhat busy man, but both 
he and his partner seem to have suspended their energies 
this morning," he said. " No doubt wild-beast taming has 
its fascination, but one might fancy it was apt to prove a 
somewhat disconcerting and perilous amusemei.t." 

" Yes ? " said the girl in a tone of iarifuid inquiry. 

Deringham nodded. " One can never tell when the beast 
may revert to his primitive instincts, and do something 
unpleasant," he said. " This one is also evidently of some- 
what uncertain temperament. We are told that Una had j 
a lion, but the eTect of the story would have been diminished j 
if it had been recorded that the king of the forest divided his » 
allegiance." 

Miss Deringham was now convinced that her father was ; 
not pleased. " I have not noticed anything especially leonine 
about Mr. Seaforth," she said. 

" No," said Deringham dryly. " The Honourable Charley ; 
appears to be an admirable young man of the domestic : 
feline species, but I don't know of any reason that would '. 
make it advisable to waste powder and shot over him."- 

Miss Deringham rose languidly, but her fat' _t felt he i 

had gone as far as was desirable, and went back to grapple i 

with a financial difficulty from which he could see only one j 

90 



MISS DERINGHAM SLIGHTED 

! pr:^!:^''^?^:;:::^ -!^i.n'^»\-'v^<^ out ... 

but when they left the dearin^ ^ °?""S^''»""=°"ld ride 
* she found that a) X tdiBeTtF^T.^"^ 1^"° "'^ ^^^ 
i "°V™"'^h use in British Colunla^^Th '" ^"^'^"^^ ^^as 
I ceptibJe trail, and the horse^T?. ", 7^^''^ ^^^ no per- 
I trees, and plunged sm\'hTn" hrou jf ?,^ round great f^^len 
f berry and barberry In nl.. ^iF ■ ^^'<'^^ts of black rasp- 
by tall, black-stemmed fern anH ^" t""^' ^"^ brushid 
open treacherous gravel slfoT^H^'K'" '^t ^°''"' ^« -"ore 
I sank from sight aS he hl^H tT'f "^ ^^^ ^oofs that 
I wineberry. After an hour olltZ ' f ''" °^ t''^ ''"'= 

"Jt seem-s UossiWe fofhorl'"'' the way?" she said, 
this forest." ^ ^ *'" ''°"" or cattle to get through 

Seaforth laueheH " Tv,. u . . 
said. "Anybody used to it conM "/^''^ *'" ^ere," he 
wh.le a good bushman could scarcefvml'°"#'' '' ' g^"oP. 
walking where it's tolerably thrck^T™^'/^^'""" » day 
tha the ox was onVinallv a H.n- ?'°,"^^'' '^ you know 
until Harry told me tI M " °^ *« "'"^b. I didn^^ 

^^"W^"^^e?r^?^'-^^^^ " ^- 

not always la^cv^so a eo- "^*'' ""' '"'""^'^ °"^ '"■'^^t 
thing useful. Anyway frZ i' '"'y^^P^dk on eve^- 
w.ll presently see som^Af tl? *^^- ?°""'' «P yonder you 

f-. and the'sp":t:clTm°a;b: K"! • t''^ °^ ^"^ ™ 
the beast will if possible head =. J^"""^ '^'^^"^e 

fastnesses where only a prehLlrir^ "^ •''^' ^^"^y «*» 
follow it." ^ prehistoric man with a tail could 

the^'Sl^'fJe"?':" "^edTh*'"? '"^"^^^ ^"d -^^ g'ad of 
hi" which formed ZdeofThnr'' "^ °V''« ^'"^ '°f a 
valleys opened. There were ^1..^ ""'."^ ^^ich several 

91 



'iHlHfcli 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



' i 



i;!;. I 



green shadow, while below them a stream went frothing 
down a miniature canon whose banks were cumbered by 
fallen timber. It was, the girl fancied, an especially difficult 
place for a horseman to pick his way through. 

Meanwhile the sound above grew louder, and presently 
an object apparently travelling like a thunderbolt came out 
of the shadow. It was, notwithstanding the speed it made, 
gambolling playfully, with head tossed sidew.-ys and tail 
in the air, and when Miss Deringham fancied it must turn 
asi-ie for a tangled brake, went smashing straight through it. 
As it emerged with an exultant flourish of head and tail 
two other objects became visible behind it, and Seaforth 
pushed forward when the mounted figures came sweeping 
down the mountain side. Here and there they swung wide 
round a fallen tree, but they rod» straight through rasp- 
berry-canes and breast-high fern, ai^u Alice Deringham 
wondered when she saw that on>: of them was a girl. She 
had left her hat somewhere in th; bush, her hair streamed 
about her, the skirt was blown aside ; but she held on with 
set lips and two vivid spots of colour in her warm-tinted 
face, a length or two behind her companion. He was riding 
hard, and there was a red smear across his face where a 
branch had smote him. 

Miss Deringham turned to watch them, realizing that 
whatever the steer risked, its pursuers were in peril of life 
and limb. Sometimes one horse rose above fern and thicket, 
or twisted, apparently with the sinuosity of a snake, in and 
out amidst the clustered trunks, while once the girl lurched 
forward. Miss Deringham gasped, but part of tie fluttering 
skirt was rent away, and the little lithe figure swtpt on again. 
The pair were, it was evident, closing with the steer, and the 
latter apparently cut off from the valley it made for by the 
ravine. This was not, however, to prove an insuperable 
obstacle, for as Miss Deringham with difficulty edged her 
horse nearer, the beast charged straight at the hollow, and 
dropped into it. Then, while she regarded its capture as 
certain, it rose into view again, and floundered up the 
almost vertical slooe on the other side with no very obvious 
difficulty. Miss Deringham, who found this riding down 
of a Canadian steer almost as exciting as anything she had 

92 



MISS DERINGHAAI SLIGHTED 

Then the man turned his iiparf onj .•4. 

feL'.^"r^^-;r4''"- very wht li^v .^s 

^,*J*"' '^*'^"'*'°3"e'y- "She's over" 

93 




ALTON OF SOMASCO 

It became evident as they did so that the position 
favoured the pursuers now. A rock it was apparently in- 
capable of climbing prevented the flight of the steer in one 
direction, and Miss Townshead had ridden forward ready to 
turn the beast if it attempted escape in another. It stopped 
with lowered head as though meditating an onslaught upon 
her, then wheeled again and came back towards Alton, who 
rose a trifle in his stirrups, whirling the rope about his head. 
It shot forward presently, uncoiling in a curve, and then the 
man swung backwards, wheelinp- his horse, and there was a 
crash as the steer went down amidst the fern. 
. " That should take a good deal of the friskincss out of it," 
said Seaforth. " We'll go across and join them. There's 
a way over somewhere." 

The steer was ri_.ped to a tree when they came up with the 
pair, and Seaforth noticed with some inward amusement 
the way in which the two girls glanced at each other, and the 
contrast between them. Miss Deringham was almost too 
serene, and, he fancied, might have stepped out of a picture. 
Miss Townshead's cheeks were crimson, her skirt was rent, 
and, though she had evidently found opportunity to effect 
some alte.,tion, loose wisps of hair still hung about her 
shoulders. They were, however, of a fine silky brown, and 
it seen;' d to Seaforth, might have been arranged in a more 
unbecoming fashion. 

" I wonder if I might venture to congratulate you. We 
seldom witness horsemanship of this description in Eng- 
land," said Miss Deringham, with an inflection in her voice 
which Seaforth guessed the meaning of, and seemed to 
bring a slightly warmer tinge into the already carmine 
cheeks of the girl. 

Still, she looked at the speaker with a little smile. 
" There is a difference between the two countries, and the 
scarcity of dollars in this one explains a good deal," she 
said. 

Alton glanced at both of them with a slightly bewildered 
expression. " Of course ! " said he. " The thing's quite 
simple. That steer is worth so many dollars to Miss Towns- 
head's father, and he couldn't afford to lose them." 

Alice Deringham turned r.side with a just perceptible 

94 



i i 



MISS DERlxVGHAM SLIGHTED 

■t he saw that his companion wa^mmn;"a'^\^^^ ""'"'''' 
know!"TdVe° '"' "'"" '"'^ ^ ^°°^ -"y things I don't 

Verizon TeaieD?4t1n^^?^e''^^^ "" -- 

back for the steer," he said. "^' Jack's 1"^^^'^°'"'°''' 

-r il'^f'^'nM.''" ^1' ^'"^ » '""« quiver n her voice 
A^on ^*"' ^K"""'^ " '°° •'"d fo"- h™ up there" 

a use for another man f r two y^u see " "''' ^"'^ 

head'f che';ii*"'"l'"dnn?/tvr°" 'i'^' '"'° ^'^^ ^owns- 

Well, said Alton, " I'm poine- to takp a i;t.„,i, t i 
..u.dn;t.have gone up yonL7i fou^lW^^^^^t 

r,;^!i"'if Townshead looked down a moment, then swiftiv 

on thet^lrfh ""'' "'°"^'' ''^■- «"^^" ^^^"^ed tS tiS 
"Th.r» • "\*''*^''^.'^f,' * ""°"s Steadiness in her eyes 
knows." ' '^"' "° "^"^ '" '^*">''"^ ^hat everybody 

Alton nodded. " I know that kind of worrv atiH .v. , 

Miss Townshead appeared astonished, and did not 

hT-^^he'sa^d""" He" ' ''''""' '°'' '^'^ "°" ''"'w, bu 
lie nas, She said. He came up to see my father a w^ot 

ago and that is why we are selling the stock " *"''' 

as ,h°"' ^i'^ darkened. "That man's of the same breed 
as he panther, only the panther lets up when he's full 
Well, you needn't tell me any more Interest'. J^.Vh f lu- 
country, but it's a pity your foTher— " ^ '" *'" 

He stopped a moment, and appeared a tr: . . arrassed 
95 



'1 



! 1 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

when the Ri.-I reKarded him with a little flash in her eyes. 
' My father has done his best," she said. 

" Of course ! " said Alton hastily. " Well, now, Hallam 
wants your ranch, and when that man wants a thing it's 
bad to keep him from getting it, but it wouldn't please me 
to see him take the ranch. I wonder if you can figure what 
his next move will be? " 

The girl's fingers tremb'ed. but there was patience ai;d 
courage in her eyes. " I am afraid I can," said she. " We 
shall be sold up and driven out very shortly." 

Alton shook his head. "I wouldn't count too much on 
that. Hallam's bad all through, but there are one or two 
other men who will have a finger in what's going to be made 
out of this country, and it would be a favour if when he 
shuts down on you, you send word to me." 

The girl did not look at the man, but rode silent for a 

while. " I think I understand you, and you are very kind 

but it is impossible." 

" No," said Alton grimly. " You don't understand me. 
There's not room enough up here for Hallam and me, and 
I ve a deal to square off with him already. Now when you 
get your notice you will send word to me? " 

" Yes," said the girl, as one making a swift decision, and 
there was a sudden flash of hope in her eyes. 

" That is a bargain," said Alton, with the little soft laugh 
of his. " Then when the deal's fixed up all the winnings 
will not be counted over by Mr. Hallam." 

Miss Deringham heard nothing further, and understood 
very little of what had reached her, while though unusually 
gracious to Seaforth she found him distinctly unre.'?ponsive. 
She. however, lent Miss Townshead a hat when they reached 
the ranch, and made no comment when Seaforth rode home 
with her. It was late that night when the latter found 
Alton smoking in a somewhat dubious r.iood upon the 
verandah. 

" Is there anything worrying you ? '' said he. 

"Oh, yes," said Alton grimly. "There's work of all 
kinds waiting, and nothing done to-da\ . Somehow women 
seem to play the devil with a man's plans, Qiarley." 

" Yes, ' said Seaforth, " they not infrequently do." 

96 



MISS DERINGHAM SLIGHTED 

[arge about somclliine after wI'h^/?^ ' *"' '»"''"« «' 
Nellie turned rU round o„m- ^tI ""%"'"■ *•"=" M'" 
and Miss DerinXm didn-r.- Then I came back here. 

" Did she tenfou ,o v^aM s":,!?^'' *'"' ■"«•" 
turned upon him savagely. ^'^''f""'', sm.hng. and Alton 

" No, sir, she did not " «aM i,- .. a 
tTS.T°" "-~rse1o., &Te oldrn! 
.o.a^'i,^:i|p!°j:^.ffi;a^«y bo,d venture 

get that fishing? You s^str/f, Ml ''..^^^''^ '""= ""dn't 
course, if I had thought^f t i' ?'m ^'^ ^^^" °" ''■ "f 
her." 'nougnt ot it I might have sen', you with 

tha't'^w;': ^h^e' fe^sofanTl'ln-t" it"'f, "''^"'^ ^"'^ 
suggested would have given Mi !«n^ 'u* ^■•'■^"Sement 
pleasure , Nor do I ti^^n^'7s"ho'uld"ha°vrgot^'?' '""^ ^-' 
..M ;. ^=|d Alton inquiringly. *" 

-an?Carrby::iS'see'^'^- " ''"" "°* ^"- "f Son . .o 

"•^:^e^;?Se^^h^i["dorXse"U°^cifr'°^^^^^ 

and then laughed softiv " I'm i f™i -'l ^'■'*^>'' "« ^a'd, 



97 



CHAPTER X 



I t 



THE UNDELIVERED MESSAGE 

The ifternoon was slipping by when, some time after 
the capture of the steer, Alice Deringham sat waiting for 
Alton under a big fir. He had promised to take her out 
upon the lake, and the little breeze that stirred the cedars 
to drowsy music would, she Icnew, ripple the shining sur- 
face and render the capture cf a big trout the less proble- 
matical. The trout of British Columbia are also at least 
equal to those of England in their faculties of discrimina- 
tion and observation, and during the listless autumn days 
Miss Deringham's angling had not been especially success- 
tul. btill, though she not ^frequently returned with an 
empty basket, the girl appa ntly retained an enthusiasni 
lor It she had not always disj. yed at home. 

The lake she declared was beautiful, and this was beyond 
contravention, while even when no splash disturbed its 
mirror- ike shining she found it pleasant to slide across 
Its black depths in a light canoe. She knew, and so did 
Alton, that under those conditions the silver and vermilion 
lure would have been quite as useful in the bottom of the 
craft, but the man usually seemed too content to lazily dip 
the paddle while the girl would lead him on to talk with 
judicious questions. Alton could on occasion talk well 
displaying a vigour and freshness of thought which at the 
commencement had slightly astonished his companion who 
found a curious pleasure in sounding this and that depth 
ci :]is nature. 

As a rule, he responded readily, and she was conscious 
ot the same sense cf power that a master of the organ 
might feel as his fingers touched the stops and kevs. Alton 
had lived simply in close touch with nature, and though 
he had read much, his thoughts had sometliing of the 
98 



THE UNDELIVERED MESSAGE 

fn"f' f?i""'^ ^"^ V^?""" °^ "^^ '='"d he dwelt in, and were 

expenditure and artistic selection. To son^ extent Ind 
so far as she could ascertain it it was aUoTn , ' ^ 
ance with the taste of the .nan ' whoTaslo ^L'S; 

It was very still. Nobody moved in the clearinfr tho„„», 
from beyond it rose the faint humming ofsav^s^and the 
httle breeze was heavy with a resinous fragrance The lo^ 

noticed that the somewhat grim old lad^ hlTfj' ii^ 

Pr'senln ''T ^ ^-^^ Totthtd' Taught' 
rtesently the rattle of plates also ceased, and the girl found 

M.ss Deringham, who had risen with a smile shui the 

v"af "otllZ ' Th ' '"''' ^'r"t -''- 'he ta^'tha ' 
was not Alton The man sat loosely in his saddle and his 

" irHarrv'Al""''^''^ ''u^'" ^' P"^'^"^ *e horse up " 
th. • 1 "^ ." anywhere around, miss?" he said and 
the girl noticed that his voice was uneven "« '^"1' ^"d 

wher^'h^is^"''" ''''' P^^^^"tly," she said.' "I don't know 

ti ' ^ "^ ^ 'ong way to ride, and can't wait for him " said 
the man, swaying a little as he gathered up the bridle 
There seems to be nobody around the place, and when 
99 



ii II I 



. I' 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

he comes you might tell him to go up to Townshead's as 
Thurs^da^'""' '^^"'^'' ^^"''"^ ^ see him, and it's 

II Thursday ? " said Miss Deringham. 
Yes," said the man. " Harry will understand. There 
was some more about it, but I've forgotten it. Well, you'll 
tell him. I must be getting on." 

He lurched when the horse started, and though most 
men are abstemious in that country, Alice Deringham de- 
cided that he was under the i.^riuence of alcohol. She also 
telt distinctly displeased with him for bringing his mes- 
sage before she and Alton had set out for the lake It 
was a favourable afternoon for fishing, and not pleasant 
to reflect that her amusement must be deferred at the bid- 
ding of the girl from the ranch. Then she decided that as 
Alton would not have received the message had he come 
when she expected him, it would not make any great difTer- 
ence if he did not hear it until their return. Miss Dering- 
ham did not remember by what reasoning she arrived at 
that result, but it seemed to her distinctly more fitting that 
Miss Townshead should be the one to wait. 

Ten minutes later Alton rode up at a gallop. " Sorry 
I couldn't come before, but I was over at Thomson's bor- 
rowing a new trolling spoon," he said. " Jimmy's too slow 
for anything, and I had to look at a span of oxen he'd been 
buying. 

" It seems to me that leisureliness is a characteristic of the 
country, ' said the girl. 
„ Alton glanced at her with a faint twinkle in his eyes 

Now if you feel vexed with me, look at the horse," said 
he. Anyway, the canoe's ready and the lake all ripplinr, 
and I ve one of the new flight-hook spoons." 

Miss Deringham, who saw the spume upon the bit and 
the horse s whitened sides, smiled graciously, and decided 
that Nellie Townshead's message could very well wait until 
the evening. 

"I will be ready in about five minutes," she said. 

She kept the man waiting twenty, possibly because she 
believed it would be a salutary discipline, and was not dis- 
pleased to notice that he stamped impatiently up and 

100 



THE UNDELIVERED MESSAGE 

the state of content wi h Mch o h.^''\'?'.''"^ '""*• 'n 
characterizes comrades na^,^.. f^^ "^^"^^ occasionally 
They had also so much to talk aCt . '/'t'"^ ^''Pedition^ 
completely forgot the messaie ,nH V^'.^^'^' Deringham 
d;?s.pated when she met he?'father"i ^'^^^^^ ^«= °"'y 
H.S pose expressed defection Ind 1 f°" ■ ^°' = ■"'""'« 
towards her along the ierandah '''""°" ^^ '^'^ "'"e 

"ThaV\"°!,'°?^^'^"'"^''«^aid. 

Denngham nodded " Ann ^ ^ ■ 
of Carnaby come under that hT'f' *°°/ ''^ *e affairs 
hemmed in by difficult^frrli "iMcimg. In fact, I am 
to make it ^orse Aten wT c°ome"to "^V'"-°"^'', and 

at^dom when he told'^i^.^'^he^^rS^'-f ^il 

cove?her°"ndfgnatio^ '^' It'^wote '"^"''"^ °»t^"..y to 
that I could accept such /f, '' "^ P''«Po^terous to think 
- i-uion of^^SAS^^irS?^.''^ Had the sligl^l!! 

young^omt wrii'l^^ro c/^'"'/ ^=^ *"- -e 
Carnaby." """"'" "°t Q,sdam to be mistress of 

he does himse"r;„d"f%°rdftT-th7 ^-"^ ""'^ ^^at 
affair. Still, if there had hi ' f.^ '= ^n end of the 

te possibility alluded to'luld"h:vr!?L'" ''' '^'^^^ 
irom me." "uuiu nave lifted a great load 

fandYfo„"t^:rd'a'h^':rt*h^h"^d\°^ '^^^^ '''^ ^'X 
face that was less cold TncoTourinf than'"' \'"i'- ^"^ a 
however, she stood upright ii^/'afAr 'cam'eTllfe 

lOI 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



« ! 



ir 



I ^ 



stairway, but not before he had seen her. After a swift 
glance at her he put his hand gently on her shoulder. 

" You are in some trouble. Can't you tell me what it 
is?" he said. 

Alice Deringham could just see his face in the moon- 
light, and it was gravely compassionate, but there was in 
it none of the personal admiration she had sometimes no- 
ticed there, which had its effect upon her attitude towards 
him. He was, she felt, sorry for her because she was a 
woman menaced by some difficulty, and that she should 
be an object of pity to this bush rancher stung the 
pride, of which she had a good deal. Had he tendered 
his sympathy because she was Alice Deringham it is pos- 
sible that she would have told him something, though not 
exactly the simple state of the case. As it was, however, 
she shook his hand off, and looked at him with a sparkle 
in her eyes. 

" Why should you suppose that, and venture to presume 
upon it ? " she said. 

" Would it be presuming? " 

" It would," said the girl very coldly. 

" Then," said Alton, " you can't tell me? " 

" No, of course not. Is there any reason why I should ? " 

Here at least was an opportunity, but if the man desired 
to gain his companion's confidence he made an indifferent 
use of it. " We are some kind of relations, and you prom- 
ised to be friends with me," he said. 

Miss Deringham laughed a little. " One seldom tells 
one's troubles to one's friends," she said. 

Alton seemed to sigh. " Then ihere is nothing I 
can do? " 

" Yes," said Miss Deringham. " People are usually best 
alone when they have to grapple with a difficulty." 

Alton still lingered a moment. " It you don't want to 
tell me, I don't know how to make you. and I'm sorry, 
because I might fix the thing up," he said gravely. " Well, 
I'm going, bi't it hurts me to see anything worrying you, 
and know that somebody else has brought it upon you." 

" How could you know that? " said the girl. 

The man smiled a little. "It's quite simple," said he. 

102 



THE UNDELIVERED MESSAGE 

2Z"::yZy^^'' '""^ '^■■"'' '° "^""S --OW upon your- 

HarSf'?' '^"^ "- '-"-. "Where are you going, 
thal-s S^a^arroZ d:v"i,??'" ^="^ ^"^ ^™'X. "and 
and diamonds/' said he distinguish between paste 

ini?aXd":i,ftpL;it;rh:r"/ti!"=.^ j--"-^ -* 

head, still weann^there^ velvet ?.r'''°"'?- ^owns- 
'eather chair, with the LTCTa^onnAl"''"'' '^' '" '^e old 
"pon him, and the cigarTd 'un "t'^e '"capable stamped 
attitude seemed to imnW ?hft I,? ^°^^'' '^'""^ ^y. His 
but had discovered that it l^! ' ^ ^^'^ "'-"'<=d '"an. 
sipped his coffee delicately and thTn "f ^T'''"^' "<^ 
daughter with a trace of frritattn" ^^'"""^ *°^^^''^ ^"'^ 
. ^ wish you could keep still mv'dpar"!,^ j .,^, 
IS an inquietude in vour verv ^{ fu' ^ '^"^- There 
with a little forti ude one cin ^.T *'V ""'""'"' '"e- and 

103 



ALTON OF =OMASCO 



is - 



as you will remember, lost some of the cattle and misman- 
aged the ranch. Mr. Seaforth is also a young man who 
occasionally takes too much upon himself." 

The girl flushed a little. " Jack worked from morning 
to night, and if we had spent a few dollars hiring some- 
body to help him, it would have been better for all of us," 
she said. " That, however, is not the question. What are 
we to do when we are turned out of the ranch, as we shall 
be very shortly ? " 

" There is," said Townshead, " no use in anticipating 
unpleasant probabilities. We will in the first place go 
down to Vancouver, where I fancy you will be able to earn 
a moderate sum by typewriting. The use of the instrument 
is, I understand, readily acquired, and while I regret the 
necessity for a daughter of mine to follow such an occupa- 
tion, the emolument appears to be reasonable." 

Nellie Townshead smiled somewhat bitterly, for the fact 
that she had ridden after straying cattle, and done a good 
many things that women do not usually undertake upon 
the ranch had apparently escaped her father's attention. 

" But is there anything you could do in Vancouver ? 
You have no great knowledge of business," she said. 

Townshead smiled wryly. " It is," he said, " a pity that 
I have so much, because on the two occasions I took an 
interest in it I lost a good deal of money. There is nothing 
for me to do here, at least. I cannot chop big trees." 

" No," said the girl. " But have you nothing in con- 
templation ? " 

Townshead shook his head as though he were tired of 
the subject. " No," he said resignedly. " I have too much 
regard for my very indifferent health to worry unnec- 
essarily." 

The girl sighed a little, and felt very helpless, knowing 
that the task of maintaining both would devolve upon her 
and her brother. She was a dutiful daughter, but she 
occasionally found it difficult to maintain her respect for 
her father. Had he been beaten down after a stubborn 
struggle she would with almost fierce loyalty have been 
proud of him ; but Townshead, who spent most of his time 
safeguarding his constitution, had never fought at all. Con- 

104 



THE UNDELIVERED MESSAGE 

sirst.^MS,!T„^^,TL'/- nothing, .he 

came audible Somehn,!; ,. • ,• P, "^ horsehcjofs be- 
was another 'ranch farther un [hf '^ n*^'' '"^l ^"' "'«=■■« 
throbbed when her st?a ned si^ses told h^' tl!'' '"^ P"''*^^ 
man had reached the Sg oTtL'tlil '^f'h^^ '"r" 

''Tt:,f„*=dK ^r "^^'^ '^ TSde"attrS:" 
home t^^n? a^d The r^ wlih":",!^; "'," ""-"^f '"'"'"^ 
was a knocking at the d^r A ml /'",'■" ^^^ "^^"^ 
a horse behind h m and^^ nl " 'u°°'', °"'"^^ '' ^i* 
dress betrayed him as nlf^^^u'" ^'^ ''^"''' ^l^''^ his 

am," he said, with a cHsn Enll Lh '• ?'°" P«^^^ho I 

.,°f. course," he said; " I'm going" 
JNellie Townshead lauehed bitterlv " Tf t u j • 
;-h„t you out I shou.d^^cir^K^a•ve a!L'd 'yl '.^^^^^^ 

105 



\^ I llj' 



ALTON, OF, SOMASCQ 

The girl seemed to soften, for she saw he was talking 
at random to cover her embarrassment as well as his own. 

You are an Englishman ? " she said. 

"Yes," said the stranger. "I'm not especially proud 
of It just now, but, you see, a man must live." 

Townshead looked up from his chair. " I fancy that is 
a slightly mistaken sentiment. Some men are better dead 
and I occasionally feel tempted to include myself in the 
category." 

The young man smiled a little. " The Frenchman put 
It a trifle more concisely, sir," he said. 

Townshead nodded. "Still, he was correct. I don't 
mind admitting that I looked forward to your visit with 
apprehension, but I now fancy you will not jar upon me 
so much as I expected." 

The stranger glanced at Miss Townshead, who, though 
she wished to, could not quite check a smile. He was ver>- 
young and had a pleasant face. " That was very kind of 
you, he said. " Now, I think the least that I can do is to 
retire to the barn or stable. I have some blankets, and can 
make myself comfortable." 

He went out, knocking over a cup in his haste, and the 
girl sat still and laughed. There was not a great deal of 
merriment in her laughter, and the tears were close behind 
It, but It was a relief. Townshead, however, watched her 
disapprovingly. 

" You should," he said, " endeavour to preserve a becom- 
ing serenity." 

Nellie Townshead became grave again. "I fancy it 
would have been better if we had not displayed so much of 
it and let things drift, but that is not the question now," 
she said. " How could any one willing to l-elp us do so 
father?" 

Townshead made a little grimace. "Are you not sug- 
gesting an impossibility ? " 

" But if there was somebody," persisted the girl. " What 
could he do on Thursday? I want to understand every- 
thing." 

" Well," said Townshead, " I think this is the position. 
Hallam lent me money which I cannot repay him, and he 

lo6 



sells 



THE UNDELIVERED MESSAGE 



some reason 



. Incidentally, . 

desiring this ranch, and as 

|.ve as.ed the que?tro;\tsVVradTo;,^ethr/ryor 

n,oL?nrrtw'o"^S I7t '-■ ''^- ^-ied so a 

.he"rra?"af fpS^ Iff '^V!'''''/ = ""'^- '^°"^'"^ 
let him know," she safd "'^''^ "^ P''°'"'^«= to 

Her father shook his heaH " a 

nis nead. A young- man of Mr 

107 




ALTON OF SOMASCO 

Alton's descHption does not do anything of the kind with- 
out a mclive," h'j said. " Now I wonder if there are min- 
erals upon the ranch." 

The colour crept into his daughter's cheeks again. " They 
would in any case belong to the Crown," she said. " Can 
you not believe that the man who packed our provisions 
in through flooded fords and snow would do anything out 
of generosity?" 

She turned away and left him, and Townshead puckered 
his face dubiously. " I should find it very difficult, and 
the care of a daughter is a heavy responsibility," he said. 

Miss Townshead did not return for some little while, 
but stood above the cedar washing-board scarcely seeing 
the dishes that once or twice almost slipped from her hand. 
There was.her father had told her, one man who could 
help them in the only way in which assistance could be 
accepted, and she felt sure he would. If rancher Alton 
failed to keep his word she felt it would be very difficult 
to believe in the honour of his sex again. 



loS 



CHAPTER XI 

CONFIDENCE MISPLACED 

There was sliding mist in the Somasco vallev anH *»,. 
pncs ,v,..re dripping when Alton and M^ss DeriS^hlm 
stood upon a slippery ledge above the rive Tust hfre Tt 
came down frothing into a deeo blarlr ^ni '' ^ '5 

SSSIl5p«H£H 

little anf ke"e^" trJl'^tTo '^"''% " ^^''^ '^e winch a 
and you'll fose h „ ont» "" "^ "" ' ^«" '^e rapid, 
he turns again" ' ^"^ "" '''^P = «t^^'" °" when 

~ht' W&f'the'rorbend"'* ^^ f^'^' ^-^ => 
'■ne ripping its wav toi.r,^ 1 '^'."^ ^^""^ ^^''- 3"<1 'he 
pool. Thefe it 7urJ^^^ }^^ '^'^L*" ^' '^e head of the 
••Reel!" ''"''^^'' '""^"^'^^ ^ t"fle, and Alton shouted. 

There was a .„ick rattle, something broke the water 
109 



.;'l 



;i i *i* 



ALTON OF. SOMASCO 

with a silvery fla>h, and the line was shooting downstream 
■gam. 

"Let him go, unless he makes for the fir yonder," said 
Alton quietly. 

For the space of several minutes the line swept up and 
down the pool, and Miss DerinKham watched it almost 
breathlessly with fingers on the reel. Then it swept straight 
towards the fallen fir. ^ 

" Stop him ! " said Alton. " It's a good trace. Keep the 
butt down." 

The rod bent further, a big silvery body rushed clear of 
the water and went down again, while next moment the 
Ime stopped and quivered as it rasped against the fallen 
fir. Miss Deringham turned to her companion with a 
gesture of consternation. 

'' Oh ! " she said breathlessly. " It has gone." 
"I don't know," said Alton. " That trace is a good deal 
thicker than what you use in England. I'll see if I can get 
him. Keep your thumb on the reel." 

He took up a net, and clambering along the ledge sprang 
lightly upon the log. It was sharply rounded, the bark 
was wet, and the way along it obstructed by the -^take-like 
ends of torn-oflf limbs, but the man crawled forwai ,: foot by 
foot with the swift whirl of current close beneath him. Then 
he knelt where the tree dipped almost level with the flood 
and grasping the line with one hand swept the net in and 
out amidst the broken-oflf branches, while the girl watching 
him fancied she could see a bright flash between the 
splashes. Presently he rose again shaking his head, with 
nothing in the net. 
"Give me a yard or two when I shout," he said. 
Grasping a branch with one hand he lay down on the 
log, and lowered himself until arm and shoulder were in 
the river. Then he sank still further until his head was 
under too, and the girl shivered a little. It seemed to her 
that it would be difficult for even a good swimmer to 
extricate himself from the tangle of snapped-off branches 
between the log and the bottom of the river. Still, the 
clinging foot and arm were visible above the rush of froth- 
Iio 



CONFIDENCE MISPLACED 

ing water. Then more of the nun came into sight again 
there was a half-smothered shout, and she loosed the reel 

dr^in^ '"'■^u" """T"' °^.'*° A"°" »*""K himself up 
dripping with part of one hand apparently thrust into a 
great flapping fish's head. With he back oMt Dressed 
f^Z"%^" ^'i!^ K"^''^ ">"= head towards h m aKe 
Imlng. "^ ^^ •*'""' '""• *•"'«= 'he man 'stdid up 

of ;&;kS7-t ^!r "'*'• '"' ' *""■' ""'^^ -« 

Miss Dermgham, who was flushed and breathless felt 
very gracou, towards her companion just then It was 
she realized a somewhat perilous thing he had donrto 
e lITth 7^""^ f' ^"' gratifying in itself, while the know" 
hW .- * '"''* postponed several affairs which demanded 
h s attention was more flattering still. He was also, in such 
surroundings, almost admirable as he stood be ore her 
Weheaded and dripping the river frothing at his feet and 
InntiT •""''', "^hmd him. Deerskin jacket and stained 
and faded jean, lean, smewy figure, and bronzed face were 
all in keeping with the spirit of the scene. Then a voice 
came out of the bush. 

••Hallo, Harry! Are you anywhere .iround? " it said. 

di,n ^l/""^^""!: f"u ^^'"l Deringham felt distinctly 
d. pleased. She had been about to say something deli- 
cately apposite, and now Seaforth. whose company she 
could have dispensed with, stood on '.I.e bank above them, 
apparently quietly amused. 

'' w "?i ?f ^'^. j° I"? enJoyinP yourself. Harry," he said. 
!,.„•' ^t"* ^"°'J = """'^ ""^'y> "yo" didn't come 
me ^^1?"'^ through the bush like a prairie coyote to tell 

ic^rrgTiiirti^^^"'^-"'^ ^-^'""^ ^"--•^-'^ "p ^^^^ 

Alton scrambled swiftly along the log. " Just one aues- 
-n, Charley. Quite sure noLdy came here wV any 
message for me about it that you forgot ? " he said. 
Ill 



) 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

Seaforth made a little gesture of impatience, and there 
was a trace of anger in his lone. " It is scarcely likely I 
should have forgotten that," he said. 

Then he jla iced at Miss Deringham, and was slightly 
bewildered by what he saw in her face. Seaforth had once 
or twice admired the girl's serenity in somewhat difficult 
surroundings, but there was now a suggestion of fear in her 
eyes, and she seemed to avoid Alton's gaze. It, however, 
passed in a moment, and she turned towards the rancher 
tranquilly. 

" I wonder how far I am to blame," she said. " A man 
came here a day or two ago, and apparently endeavoured 
to tell me something. He was, however, unintelligible, and 
I fancy somebody had been giving him whisky." 
" Mounted? " said Alton. " What kind of horse? " 
Miss Deringham considered for a moment, and then 
possibly deciding that Alton would have no difficulty in 
ascertaining elsewhere, told him. ' Tom I " he said grimly 
"Well, I'll talk to him. You'll take Miss Deringham 
home, Charley, and then come on to Townshead's after me." 
He swung away into the bush next moment, and Sea- 
forth followed him more slowly with Miss Deringham. 
Neither of them spoke, but though the man's thoughts 
were busy with other affairs, he noticed that his companion 
glanced at him covertly. "The girl could have told us 
something more," he said to himself, and put a stern check 
on his impatience as he kept pace with her. 

When they came out into the clearing they heard the 
thud of hoofs, and saw a mounted man send a horse at the 
tall split fence. The slip-rails were up, and the fence was 
unusually well put together, but there was a crash as the 
top bar flew apart, and presently the thud of hoofs grew 
fainter down the fir-shadowed trail. Miss Deringham now 
appeared quite serene again. 

" Has he ridden off wet through as he was? " she said. 

" I expect so," said Seaforth dryly. " Harry does not 

usually let trifles of that kind worry him, nor do I think 

there are many men who would have ridden at that fence." 

Alice Deringham said nothing, but though she smiled 



CONFIDENCE MISPLACED 

w?r?hoJ^v"ef oft'-'r ''■" ""' ^'^^^^^^ "" Noughts 
a ^^-^hi!^^;:-, t:^,^%^:^-^ead stood by 

th.-^ were two or three ho/sestdT/ew° p o caXin th 

su^:ve;:-x-bt„S, r^tVdS. 

other men, was smiling over a bip- rrVnr '"t?^°°^. =^"i "st the 

Ihe river said Townshead despondently " He will h,- 

too late d,rectly. They are putting up the ranch " ^ 

Confidence and dismay seemed to struggle 'together in 

cU^ fLf t:.1oS' •'" '^^ ^™ -- ^P%JT^7Z 

some^hfng now'' rhe'sa.U ^'^ "°* ''°' *^"''"^? ^hat is 

No,'; sa,d Townshead. " Only the wind in the firs " 
.hJ . S:i;l leaned forward a little, drawing in her breath as 
he fn'n '•^''T" ,*''5 l^"'-^- The voices dfowned the sound 

P^Ser'e'?^' -^•'-^- ^''^ '-■' ^^ aT;^^ 'o^r'tis^ 

ovSps^hftt:^^-^-^;;^- 

■n somewhat embarrassed fashion tendered her their 
113 



1 



J 



I 



I 

i 

i 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



1 I 



sympathy. What she expected from him she did not 
quite know, but she had a curious confidence in Alton, and 
at least as much in his comrade, and felt that even if the 
scheme her father had alluded to was not feasible there 
would be something they could do. Then she drew back 
from the window and sat down with a little shiver as the 
harsh voice of the auctioneer rose from the clearing. She 
caught disjointed words and sentences. 

" Don't need tell you what the place is worth. You 
have seen the boundaries. Richest soil in the Domii "on. 
Grow anything. Now if I was a rancher. Well, I'm 
waiting for your offer." 

He apparently waited some little time, and then a laugh 
that expressed bitterness in place of merriment followed 
the voice of one of the men from the cities. 

" Put two hundred dollars on to it," said somebody, and 
there was another laugh, which the girl, recognizing the 
voice, understood ; for it was known that the bidder had 
probably not ten dollars in his possession and was in debt 
at the store. The fact that this man whom she had 
scarcely spoken to should endeavour to help her while her 
friends at Somasco did nothins' also brought a little flash 
of anger to her eyes. Then she told herself that there was 
time yet, and they would come. 

The voices rose again more rapidly. " Fifty more. 
Another to me. Oh, what's the use of fooling. One 
hundred better. Twenty again to me." 

Miss Townshead glanced at her father. " They'll stop 
presently," said he. " The place stands at a third of its 
value, but it would cripple most of them to pay for it if 
they got it now. The man from Vancouver who goes up 
by twenties will get it at half of what it cost me, and I don't 
think you need watch for rancher Alton." 

Still Nellie Townshead did not quite give up hope. The 
bidding was only beginning, and there was time yet. She 
had been taught to look beneath the surface in Western 
Canada, and had cherished a curious respect for rancher 
Alton. The girl was young still, and he stood for her as a 
romantic ideal of the new manhood that was to grow to 
114 



CONFIDENCE MISPLACED 

nrrd%lre„''s;e1!fn^Lr°hr:aV^ the Dcinfon, while 
rade's face which roused her Iv?",'''"*^ '" '''^ '=°"'- 
sympathy. That, havh^ ma.l '^^^ ^"1 T"'''^ ^er to 
should slight a promLe of th. \ ^ ''^'^' ""= ^o^-"" 
hensible and she fe^h at Tf he did ^'PPf •"'t'' '■"=°"'P^«- 
he served as an examn^e of 1 m^ n'^'' ^'"^ '" 'he type 
was also pressine- neJd nf °"''' ^''" "''"' him. There 

in her time orn^ece'sty Ss?To° '""t '^ '"' ^"'^-« 
man to -rapple with an v' cuZTu ^°T*ead was not the 

^" F^h:r5!^ °^5'Sac^i;jS!' °^ '^^ -'^•'- 

where shall we griolni^ht"^^ F"'"<^'^f ^■^ *-"' "s out 
the railroad untf a wefk /o-dIv%nT. '^°" "1'-^° ■" '" 
Vlot-/;^'''"^ '^^' -° - 'C' -: Tr ^a^'tl^in^ 

wite'u?f„,.?'Se ^*.. ? sU;:i^';:"-t- • " ^^-^^^y 

that you would have seen I am ii •''^f^"5^^• "^^ dear, 
unwell to-day wrthout hav^o- ^'"""^ distressed and 
difficulties. Therrwin I hon^^ to anticipate further 
bidding now' " ' P^' ^^ ^ balance. What is the 

rose. One or two others joined n and th"erV"^''-r'''^^ 
again until the auctioneer rpn^tiJi X ^^ ^*' ^''^nce 
turned quivering towards herlatW '''' "''"• ^hen she 
Y^ou heard him?" she said. 

pr|r^^-^^S-^^,:;--f.idthe 

auSe,^ "4ire"roV'rau?oui" *'^ ^'^T"^' ""'" 'he 
really preposter::s:Tentrmr ''^rP^^^'^V;"^^ " ?t. - 
the place away." "• -t "> giving 



and the girl 



ine voice of the auctioneer rose again. "Nobody 
"5 



to 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



!!i;| 



follow him? Your last chance, gentlemen. He's getting it 
for nothing. Too late in a moment. Going — going." 

Nellie Townshead closed her hands and turned her head 
away, then sprang up quivering with the revulsion from 
despair to hope. Through the silence she heard a faint 
drumming down the valley. 

" He is coming. Stop them, father," she said. 

Nobody else apparently heard the sound. The eyes of 
all in the clearing were fixed upon the auctioneer, and 
while Townshead rose from his chair he brought down his 
hand. 

" It's yours, sir," he said. " I'll take your cheque, or you 
can fill this contract in if vou're bidding for the smaller 
lots." 

Nellie Townshead grew white in face as she glanced 
towards her father. Townshead stood still, gripping the 
back of his chair. 

" We are homeless now," he said. 

It was five minutes before the girl looked out again, and 
then in spite of every effort her eyes grew hazy, but it was 
a long time before she forgot the scene, for the groups of 
bronzed men in jean, cattle, clearing, and the tall firs behind 
them burned themselves into her memory. Hallam stood 
smiling close by the auctioneer's table with a cigar in his 
hand, and another man from the cities was apparently re- 
placing a roll of paper dollar^ in his wallet. That impressed 
her even more than the sympathetic faces turned towards the 
house, for it was a token that the sale was irrevocably com- 
pleted. Then the group split up as a man rode at a gallop 
straight towards the table. He was breathless, the horse 
was smoking, and there were red smears upon its flanks 
as well as flecks of spume. He swung himself from the 
saddle, and there followed the sound of an altercation 
while a noisy group surged about the table. It opened 
up again, and rancher Alton walked out, pale and grim of 
face, alone. 

" You should Inve come sooner, Harry," said somebody. 

The rancher turned, the group closed in again, and the 
girl did not see Alton stride up to a big man, and laying a 

ii6 



CONFIDENCE MISPLACED 

trouble with /ou. Ha."/;, bin ^/f not t^.Tt.L'^Sj: CnS ^l!^ 

bnng n,e the message' fliss TownXad ^ve yl>^" ^°" 
I did the next thing." said the man. "When I couldn't 
find you I gave ,t to the lady. She promised to ?ell you " 

drunlrW ilr^^""'^' " ''"' ^'^ ^'°- *- > 

spl^:wS^tfS^^^^r^S?s^^— ''-^ 

fono^Htt-airth^y-nt^-^^^^^^^^^^^^ 

K-l' "P„V* ^^' "^y f''"" ='"d Dobev's for g vinrhim^he 

Wen''„ow'^rf'vru",rnT f°'^'^ "^" ^"'^ weUTd hS,?n 
vveii, now, If you still feel you must work it off on some 

body you've got to tackle Dobey and me°" 

do^?''" I'ald'he!'"'' '™P- " ''° ^°" '^"°- -»-^t you have 

"Tnm^-T-} "'"^ """'''■ anyway." said the other man 
Tom didnt want to come in: told us he'd a messaE'e fnr' 
you. But we made him, and were sorry after because whpn 
he got ..arted he left us very little whisky?'' '"'" ^'''" 
Alton glanced at him a moment, and the man trrpw 
tht ;."' w '"'^i' ^K^^'^- Then h; smHed wryTy "Tnd 
andtf ^- " •^'^^ ^e^^''* Townshead and his daughter 

~ &;: aX tS"t S" ^°" "^-^ "^^"^ °' - 

hnnl"'^ atT ''^-^ P^''^^'' w'^e" be walked quietly into the 
"7 



J 



M i 'I ' 



IA.LTOX OF SOMASCO 

uisl Townsheid^°h.'"'" '^"^^^^hat I have to tell you. 
rancheTrntftowardsZr"'^^'' '"' ''°'^' -"en^he 

.op£a^Kj-t^;?^^----e 

" Wpll""'''''i'\',^''''- " S° ^^« 'he facts." 

The girl checked him bv a gesture and th^ ^-.r, c* j 
with his meaning unexpressed ''Vn„h, f" "'"PP^'' 

evident," she sa^ ""^"P"^^'"^''- You have made as much 

when he moved up to the table and bid savaffelv Halhm 
for some reason bid against him. and only ftoboed when 
d^,l^'l-?,"^^'''iP'"^ ''= ^^'"e. Alton flung^down'^a roTl o 

bough^^■"hl^a'd""''^"*r• -d not'tell hf 21 
she values it." ' ""' '''' '"°*"^' «"d ^ »^'ieve 

ii8 



CONFIDENCE MISPLACED 

fool." fe "P a story, and Miss Nellie's not a 

^' wu^^.''" *^"' Alton simnlv " tt,., • 

; Where IS Townshead goinLv' "" ^"°^^^' 'h'"?- 

Ihe rancher smiled a littie " H„- 
■ me Susie's driving over w th the^/ '°"'"^ '"^'"^ '■^"h 
Alton nodded '• m!^^ ^ vvag-on." 

fruit and thSs at Son^f" "'"''"'' ^ '°"<^hv, but we've 

" Well. I wantfout'cre^^o^unTwi r,Z' "^'" ■^^''^^ 
■ine rancher -tra.'o-i,* , , . " ""'" 'he wag-on. 

isn't SomastVtTwlTbla'':::;!';!^/ trifle. "■• M, p,,,, 
my friends," said he ''^^ ^'^=" I can't feed 

fe^iSs, 'Sn^st- :Vr'' ?- ^- -ts abo„t your 
Jike the things, and there's nn^'" """^ V^^ °'^ "'^" '"^ght 
where you got them." "° '"^=°" '^ey should know 

The other man also laughed " V„,. • . 
Harry, before 3'ou makeTwoV.. '' • Tu^ '""^'s:ht home, 

Charley, if there's a man in the Dn^.''.' ^1^' "I wonder^ 
as I do." " '" "'^ iJommion who feels as mean 

vo&aS,^r^'^;l,*- was •^■— ^ '" his 
there is," he said. " You haven"t^=t f T''^' " ^ *ink 
you will see if you look at X\ ^'K^^^.^hat kept me. but 

^lifficult ,0 understand why he muTt tlt^"- ''. ^''^ ' "«'- 
to-day." "^"y "^ must get his foot in a hole 

AiL7ouifAt'5'fri;:j,hru;"\r''^'' S--~' ''"t 
f'anced at him with very prTttv^Tmn/fh'"'''?'^-^,''' ^"<^ ^he 
fanc.d that she seemed ^ t''rifl7anroSf ^^ '""' ^-^-'h 
shes"r '°" ^^™ "^^ -- -ho brought the message- 

H;^dh'ad1;;^th^JS:ky"^°" -- ^'^ht, of ,-ours. 
The g.rl appeared, so Seaforth fancied, curiously relieved 
119 



H 



f 

i 



V: 



i! 



I 



ill 



'f 



ALTOX OF SOMASCO 

" I was almost afraid you might think I was in some respects 
to blame," she said. 

" No," said Alton simply. " That was one of the things 
I couldn't do. It was right out of the question." 

He went in, and the warm colour crept into Miss Dering- 
ham's face as she presently followed him. 



120 



CHAPTER XII 



IN VANCOUVER 

sombre forest shut tho ci,«ul j ""=."°™- io the east, 
Alton glanced towards it with a comprehensive gesture. 

121 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 






J 



" What a place this will be by and by," he said. " Some- 
times I'm proud 1 was born in this country. Now I might 
have been raised back there at Camaby, and taught it v " 
every man's chief duty to dress and talk nicely, chase 
foxes, and think about his dinner." 

" I fancy there are men who would not have thought 
that a great misfortune," said Seaforth dryly. " You could 
also, if you liked it, do so still." 

Alton laughed a little grimly. " There are two kinds of 
men in this world, Charley, and which of them makes it 
go?" said he. "The ones who have too much to eat and 
too little to do, or the others who have to keep on doing 
something because they're hungry? Well. I needn't ask 
you, because the conundrum was answered long ago, and 
that kind of talking's no great use to anybody. That was 
a very fine mill, and I picked up a good deal down there. 
Still, we will scarcely want sudi a big one at Somasco." 

" No," said Seaforth, smiling. " I don't quite see how 
we are going 'n keep the one v,\ have busy." 

" Well," sail .'Iton, " you will by and by, and I'm going 
to buy three o. four new saw-fixings to-day. You don't 
know anything about bookkeeping, Charley ? " 

" You have surmised correctly," said Seaforth. " I don't 
know that I want to." 

Alton laughed, and presently stopped in front of a build- 
ing on which a brass plate was inscribed, " Bookkeeping 
and Shorthand taught efficiently." 

" I think you're wrong, and this is the place," said lie. 
" That's a sensible man, and he just puts down what lie 
can do. Go right in, and ask how long he'll take to make 
a business man of you." 

Seaforth itared at him in bewilderment. " You took 
nothing with your breakfast, Harry?" said he. 

Alton smiled a little grimly. " I haven't had any yet. 
I've been too busy," he said. " Walk in, Charley, while 1 
see whether they'll lend me twenty thousand dollars at tlie 
bank yonder." 

Seaforth, who, however, knew that there was no use in 
arguing with his comrade, shook his head. " It's a long 
rest you want, Harry," he said. 

122 



IN VANCOUVER 



. proceeding ( 



■ street, 



fie went in, 
ently entered 

irre:^^:t!,.r::r- ,="- -d ^dn!^,:;;^ 

carried inio the bu.'d^nR and liSnt' ;™"^' '^"""" "' ^e 
passers-by gravely as he wai 1^ *^ u'^'^"' ^^^"^^ed the 
were of many and widely dTffl. "[ ^" '""""^'''=' They 
sallow faces fron, eastern .1 .V^f '■'^'•' '"^" ^"^ keen, 
moment lost wa, ^nl^ 1 "• ''=""•'"'"*? "» though every 
with the trancrutlity S"""'Y"Tf= °'hers^mov.-n^ 
bronzed prospcxto s and sole^nt"""'' ' '"" Englishmen; 
bush, wi h tlK- stillness of thf ''^™" f"""'" '''<= shadowy 
Japs, and Siwash "e'lermen ' Airnf";h"''" ''''■ ^"°"- 
fed and prosperous ami Alt *''^'" appeared well 

there was any'^one htm^rv^I^r .''''? ^"7'l'-'^i"g whether 
<lown the stairwiv „f hf 7 !,",."'='' *^'ty. when a girl rame 

^ Alton did no?-lt L'rsefh^^fr'r!','"''^"''^^^'' 
her dress was threa.lbare amlsl e t. "* 'T^"'^""'' "^='t 
while the man who read .leierl L • i walkmg wearily, 
for her. She stoDoed n Z '" '"^'' ^"'""''^ was sorry 

in her hand^^thenTel herself f'"^?! ^^'"''"^ ^' *e card 
nervous movement medhe'^lTd' aI ' "'"' ^"."' ^'^"''^'^• 
last, and though it ha-l grown a trifle h?:/lo'"' ^7 ^f " "* 
recognized Miss To.vnshead Thll , °''' ?^'' P^"'^- he 
moved forward hazily ^''*" '"'* '^^^ him, and he 

want q°;ite along ?a"lk wi{h'"v?:'"^ '"'^ '°-''^°^^°-> ''"' ^ 
,, ^ ^. do not wish to hear anything about Somasco," said 

'^■'"tK If T:: tt; STt- '^^^ ^"j."'""^' " -'" 

as your father doesn't Uu/h^^u ,, ^""^ '" this citv, and 

you haven't had any We-nt.r^''^"'' ""^'-^' ^'"^ "^""'"g 

t"o busy to thWc of^mfi!; " ^ ' '"""^ '°^"'^^^- ^'^^ beeS 

^elhe Townshead was afterwards both astonished and 

J23 



1 


i ' 


' i 


'! 1 
i 


1 [ 
i 

• ! 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

angry with herself. She had lost her respect for this man 
who had, it seemed, betrayed her confidence, and if he had 
given her a moment's time, would probably have dispensed 
with his company. As it was, however, Alton drew her 
out into the street with a swift forcefulness before she 
could frame an answer. She was also feeling very lonely 
and downcast then, and it was pleasant to find somebody 
she knew in the busy city that had apparently no place for 
her. 

" Now," said Alton presently, " we'll go in here. It's 
nice and quiet for Vancouver, but I expect you know this 
place." 

He realized that he had blundered when he saw the 
girl's face, but in another second she was laughing a little. 
" No," she said. " I'm afraid you are forgetting." 

Alton apparently misunderstood her. " Well, ' he said, 
smiling, " it's quite possible you know another place that's 
nicer; but sit right yonder while I waken some of these 
people up." 

Now the public breakfast is an institution in Western 
cities whose inhabitants frequently take no meals at home, 
and the appearance of the bronzed man and girl together 
excited no comment, while Alton was able to contrive that 
they had a table in a corner to themselves. His tastes 
were, as his companion knew, severely simple, and she 
wondered a little, because that establishment was one of 
the most expensive in the city. In the meanwhile, the 
man talked assiduously, if somewhat at random, and was 
contented when he found that he could keep the girl's 
attention occupied so that she scarcely noticed how often he 
refilled her plate. At last, as he passed a great cluster 
of fruit across, he said, " It's time you did the talking now. 
You are going right ahead in this city ? " 

The girl's face quivered for a second, and her fingers 
moved nervously. " I am afraid I have not commenced 
yet," she said. 

" No ? " said Alton. " Now Susie Thomson told me you 
were running a typewriter for somebody." 

A tinge of carmine flickered into the cheek of his com- 
panion and faded swiftly again. " I was," she said. " The 

124 



IN VANCOUVER 

a pity I wasn't a brnVh.r f ^^""^'^ *"= understood. " If, 
iik'e t'o serrse%omt" he'sa?d""" s'tin ""'''i- ' ^^'^ 
me a Ions while, and thaf, something ' ^"^ ''^''f ''"°*" 

ai;t!;rs:;;r''''--"«^^^st^ffi;;,.it,. 

someS^'^Iti/."""' ''■'"' ' "'«''• "y°" have got hold of 

an'we^^I^Tun'/ttratt'^fi ""'^^ ^" -''--ur to 
was a little less ^courl^eTanusualT;^''"''"'^''' ^"^ ""ere 
but I shall soon." she faid ^' '" ''" ^y"" Not yet, 

you booking for tt-" '''''''■ " "^"^ ''"w long have 

noddVanhoulhln'aLt^ l^'i""' ^^''-"•-' -" Alton 
to himself. ^ "^^"^ '° """"^ question he had put 

4r''«ar?^re\'i|'d" "-" ""^'^ '"'^ ■"-'". there 
she c °uld" ot^Ju'e'rcear'-l-ll' '^ ^^^'^'^ "^ ''espondency 

her as it had done nTeyes howevl ''"" ^l"?""^ ^^out 
now and then a little flnrf^ r^^^^- were brighter, and 

that did not plLe him for A ton h."f '^ ''^'" ''^''^^- h"t 
want and hun'ger in the'snlf oTthe NoX "°' " ""'•= °* 
You mean they want security ?"sa^S he" 

.iris^r-m^t 'it'^th: irf sfe'^h ^ ^'■■"- °- «^ *"« 

wanted at a big dry gooTs store TnH ?Y.f. ^^^''°"'^body 
go ro„„d and s^ee th'e^^ople now """^ ' '*""'' ^ ^ad betted 
Alton rose, and when they went out together gravely 
"5 



m 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



I '^ 



i j held out his hand. " We used to be good friends, and you 

I were kind to me," said he. " Now is there nothing that I 

can do ? " 
I " No," said Miss Townshead hastily. " Of course there 

i [ is nothing, and you will hear that I am prospering 

'- 1 presently." 

Alton bent a trifle over the little hand in the shabby 
glove that rested a moment in his palm. " Well, if ever 
there is anything you will let nie know. You are a brave 
f j girl," said he. 

( I Nellie Townshead turned and left him, feeling for no 

; apparent reason a slight choking sensation, and Alton, 

I ' who watched the little figure in the threadbare dress for at 

I least a minute, strode resolutely back to the commercial 

« school. 

i " I want to see the man who runs this place," he said. 

i He was shown into an office, where a man, whose face 

, I he was pleased with, greeted him. " You taught Miss 

' I i Townshead here?" he said. 

^ " Yes," said the other. " She is a lady of considerable 

ability, and I could recommend her with confidence." 

Alton stared at him a moment out of half-closed eyes. 
I, " Of course you would," he said. " Well now, she has been 

• 1 ' applying for some place where they want security. Is it 

fit for a lady?" 

" Yes," said the man dryly. " Otherwise I should not 
have mentioned it to her. The storekeeper having been 
victimized lately, however, requires a deposit of one hun- 
dred dollars." 

Alton took out his wallet. " He can have two hundred 
if he likes. Now I want you to fix it up without telling 
Miss Townshead or anybody." 

" You are a relation of hers ? " said the man. 
" No," said Alton, " I am a friend." 
" Then I'm afraid I can't assist you," said the other man. 
" It is necessary to avoid any probability of complications 
in my business." 

Again a glint crept into Alton's eyes, but it vanished. 
and he spoke quietly. " I think you're straight," he said. 
" Well, I'm direct too, and I'm going right back to my 

126 



IN VANCOUVER 






get through wharwehave todo"''°" ^'' ^"*^^ ^l'™ ^« 

condescendingly ' '^° •"'" ^''^'^ ="d somewhat 

said ™;K."°.tl^„Xr?v'"'^ ^°''""^'^ ''■'f>««°'' he 

Alton, who had been looking about him in the mean- 
127 



■ii 



«' 



i:i 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

while, noticed that although the day was chilly there was 
no fire in the stove, while glancing at the man who lay, 
infirm alike in will and body, in the chair, he understood 
why the girl's fingers had trembled and the mistiness he 
had for a moment seen in her eyes. He was also wonder- 
ing by what means he could lessen one difficulty, but it 
was Seaforth who devised one first. 

" Things will get better presently," he said. " Now 
Harry and I often remember the pleasant evenings we 
spent at your ranch, and we never got suppers like those 
Miss Townshead made us, at Somasco." 

" My daughter found it necessary to acquire the art of 
cookery in Canada," said Townshead a trifle distantly. 

" Of course," said Seaforth, smiling. " Everybody is 
compelled to in this country, and I only referred to the 
subject because Harry seems to fancy it must be difficult 
to get any of the little things we are used to in the bush in 
the city, while your kindness to us would justify what 
might otherwise appear a liberty. We brought a few odds 
and ends you can't get quite so nice in Vancouver along. 
Hadn't you better go and bring them in, Harry? " 

Alton glanced at him in bewildered astonishment. 
" Bring them in ? " he said. 

Seaforth shook his head deprecatingly. " You haven't 
forgotten already, and you are not going to escape in that 
fashion," he said. " If you'll ask at the hotel they'll tell 
you where to find the things." 

Alton moved so that Townshead could not see him, 
and his face was utterly perplexe'' " What things ? " 
he said. 

" Two or three fowls," said Seaforth reflectively. " There 
were some eggs, a bag of the big yellow apples, and — ^novv 
it's curious I forgot the rest." 

Alton's eyes twinkled. " Oh, yes, " he said. " Some 
venison. There was the deer you shot in the potatoes, 
and a bag of dried plums. Our orchard has done very 
well, Mr. Townshead." 

" I wonder if I forgot the Excelsior pears," said Sea- 
forth. " They're as big as your two fists, and Harry's 
quite proud of them." 

12S 



IN VANCOUVER 



difficulty rLpecrgthe To^Ui S"T ^Jd'^V.^^Jr'^ 

whichihrfSafo/'^ ""'^ things t^:t jd^;^ 

ex«''„rhe°sae.\?°°^ "^^^ T°^', '^an his words 
went out and returned late? wit/f^"^ '° '"' =T'-^de, who 
must have forgotten to out Z •^'"'^'''■\ Somebody 
things are all there " he !m "°" '"' ''"' ^''^ °"^" 

whn^x; wie"btfovS'^° r^i^"^ *^ "^-P-^ -d 

apparently raining for the thfn^''''!; ''""'" •"• ^^ was 
her, and she seemed very whte an?'**' dress clung about 
drawing on, the room was dim f ^ T^/^" darkness was 
only saw her fath^ as she sZh ?i-^' ^"^ '^^ apparently 
window. ^ ''°°'' '^'""g off her hat by the 

"St"^.?tTc^/a"tfX"r'sL?e"'t""^ '=^^'^'" '''« -•>• 
wickedly extravagant I w.f tl/ to-morrow, and I was 

dinner,and I bo^uglft sLThiArw^pTeaTe^S £ 
rus'htd"t" her fac^ fo° sh'e t' "f, ''^',''^-" *e blood 

came forw pj smX^rfno^ertoS.''- '^^ ^^^^^ 

when yout^e7n? heTaid '■"./'?h";f "^ ""^ ^'-"^ '° ^^ 
Harry fancied might be useful wf "^ k"^ ?[ *^° *"fl« 
all the products of Somasro L^ " ^^'"'"'"y P'-oud of 
can get 'anything niceirthe°ci?y"" '''""' *° "''"^ nobody 

-n:fn^w and° thtit hirbVlt^"! ""''' ^°-=''-'' 
t^thejoor^helingered^^mit^^^^^^^^ 

tH^ftS-^-^S^-.-L?,i-- 
129 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



14 



iij 



1 , 

M 5 



with a little tremor in her voice. " Still, it was done in 
kindness — and I am grateful." 

Seaforth smiled gravely, though his face perplexed the 
girl. " A little faith is a good thing, and people should 
believe what they're told," said he. " Now I wonder if one 
could take the liberty ? " 

" No," said the girl. " Even if he had the best intentions. 
I and my father have not lost our pride." 

Seaforth sighed as he turned away, and, when he rejoined 
Alton, stared at the light" of the city savagely, while as 
they passed along the wacer-front he said, " Will you give 
me a cigar, Harry ? " 

Alton drew out his cigar-case, glanced at it a moment, 
and then tossed it across the wliarf. " What right have you 
and I to be going back to dinner when that girl hasn't 
e lough to eat?" he said. "You know what those cigars 
ci .-t me. Lord, what selfish brutes we are! Now stop 
. ij,at here and tell me what we are going to do! " 

Seaforth made a gesture of helplessness. " The difficulty 
is that one can't do anything," he said. " You see, we 
can't attempt the hamper trick too frequently, and I 
scarcely think Miss Townshead would care to be indebted 
to either of us in any other fashion." 

" Well," said Alton simply, " there must be a way 
somewhere, and I'm going to find it." 

" Then," said Seaforth, with a trace of bitterness, " for 
the sake of everybody's peace of mind I hope you will. You 
seem especially compassionate towards Miss Townshead." 
Alton glanced at him a moment, and then laughed a 
little. " I suppose you can't help being foolish, Charley, 
but you should know I've no time to think of anything 
beyond what I have to do just now," he said. " The 
biggest contract I've ever taken hold of is waiting for 
me." 

" I am," said Seaforth dryly, " glad to hear you say so, 
even though your recent conduct would make it somewhat 
difficult for most people to believe you." 

Alton glanced at him very gravely. " I don't like those 
jokes," he said. " You'll get more sense as you grow up, 
Charley." 

130 



CHAPi'ER XIII 

THE SOMASCO CONSOLIDATED 

4rhori:L'irng":rt'i',Lt ^-^r^ «-' ^^y. 

while fresh ones were saddled if '°"'. *"'' °"'y waiting 
trail again before Aefir't flint lit °"''^ '^'"'^- '°°^ 'hi 
He also sp< .Ve little with Seaforth^H "''"P'u""*. °^ '^e east, 
stared at the latter who Hr» ^ '^"^'"^ "'^ ourney, and 

plodded, steamtag'knd beSaUer'ed .Ti'''" *^ ^^^^^ ^°"«^ 
ment. ® uespattered all over, into the settle- 

" What are you stopping for'" he «;h 
Alton lauffhed " nh ZJ, "'"^'^y • 

swung himself down in front nf/)> ^.' ''°^«^"' Alton 
b.g clearing behin^t, where a man t;il.t*M°"^*= ^■"' ^ 
out a word and signed tflem to enter ^ '^"' ^°"'' ^''h- 

4p1dttoTcrr b'S £^;r^h^' H^"'' -"'d Have 
man came back again and dn,t>n' f °°^ ^'^^'^^ ""*'' the 
hat pointed to thfm wi?h ttstur7°JT ^"!^ '^■'' ^"^^ 
ha.r and beard were frosted hff J ^ h°sp>tality. His 
and there were manv wWnti ""^f^^e was lean and brown 

and flapjacks ? " he said ''^ ^^ ^"""^ Pork 

131 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



Mfi 






u 

!'! 



iii 



t^ 



Alton shook his head. " Don't worry, I can't wait," he 
said. 

" Ye are very welcome," said the other. 
" Of course ! " said Alton simply ; " still, I can't stop. 
I'm here to talk business, Callender." 

Seaforth noticed that in face of the typical absence of 
protest or compliment there was nothing the most critical 
could find fault with in the invitation or the refusal. The 
old man was dressed in very curiously-patched jean, but 
he was almost stately in his simplicity, and nothing could 
have been more apposite than the little nod with which 
Alton made his affirmation. It implied a good deal more 
than speech could have done. 

"Ye will be asking about the place?" said Callender. 
" I'm wanting three thousand dollars. It's worth all 
that." 

Alton nodded, and it was evident that the men understood 
each other, for there was no endeavour to lessen or enhance 
the value of the property. " It will be worth more presently, 
but that's about the fair thing now," he said. 

" Weel," said Callender simply, " by then I may be dead. 
Twenty years I've lived on my lone here, and I thought at 
one time I would be content to lie down by between the 
bush and the river, but now a longing to see the old land 
grips me. Ye will not under.^tand it. Ye were born in 
Canada." 

" No," said Alton gravely. " The land that has fed me is 
good enough for me." 

The old man made a little gesture of assent. " Aye," he 
said. " It's a good country, but I feel the old one calling 
me. It's just three thousand dollars I'm asking ye." 

Alton drew a sheet which seemed covered with calcula- 
tions from his wallet, and glanced at it silently. Then he 
looked at the rancher. 

" One thousand down, one thousand in six months, and 
the rest any time in two years, with six per cent.," he said. 
" You might get the dollars in your wallet if you made the 
deal with a land agent in Vancouver." 

"Maybe," said Callender simply; "I can trust ye. 1 
would not sell the place to anybody." 
132 



THE SOMASCO CONSOLIDATED 

helled '"^ ""• " ^°" ^''^" have a cheque to-morrow." 

on again. ^' "" comrade as they rode 

effS'scene^ul-rnAt"^"' T- t ^^"^*> = ''°'"«=what 
the busfness school " '"'' ^'"''' °^ "^ ^''""''^ &° t° 

a man" '^a.^'^t- '^7''.°^''" '"""'^^^ ^^en I deal with 
betTer Dleased or li l^T' ^'?'' ^ ^""''J"'' have been 
Detter pleased, or five dollars richer, if we'd tallced all 

Seaforth nodded, though his eyes twinkled " Vn., j : 

Jateh wondered wbellier hi. comrade mw He wicked 
S i t'iS- r- "" "« "is"' d~"J ol'ht 

-J J£eX3t. US,'S',SSSS!' "■ ' ~- 

~.Ltf4h^^~4";t"4To.T,s?.i,.f-'^"' 
£9£d'^xrA.?VLid!^'C^rs 

mo'^e'hU #n7 ''^>' ^PP'^'^'' ■" H^"a'"'= cheeks, and once 

beTorry 4"^a"d bv "VT I'm' a'!"'-' " '''^"' >-°" "" 
^ ^ dna Dv. But as Im a busmess man first and 

133 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

last I'll give you another chance," he said. " There's not 
room for two of us in this valley, and with what I'm hold- 
ing I can call you any time." 

Alton's eyes were half closed now, and there was a glint 
in them. " I've been figuring on that," he said. " When 
I'm ready, I'll let you see my hand." 

Now if Hallam had been taught his business, which was 
an especially mean one, in England he mii;ht have kept 
his temper; bi; he lacked finish, though his abilities were 
unpleasantly sufficient in the West. 

" Then it is to be hoped you'll put up a better game than 
you did at Townshead's ranch. I was a little sorry for the 
girl," he said. " Met her once or twice in Vancouver, and 
she didn't seem well off." 

Alton said nothing, but he pressed his heels home, and 
the big tired horse moved forward. The trail was narrow 
just there, and wound through a quaggy belt where tall 
wild cabbage grew out of black depths of mire. There was 
also no room for Hallam to wheel his horse on the slippery 
sawn-up logs, and Alton urged his beast on, glancing im- 
perturbably at the man in front of him. 

Again the grey crept into Hallam's face, and a very 
unpleasant look in his eyes, but he drew his bridle, anil 
next moment his horse was floundering in the mire. Alton 
laughed a little as he rode on without glancing behind 
him. 

" That may have been pleasant," said Seaforth dryly. 
" but in view of what I saw in Hallam's face I don't know- 
that it was wise." 

" Well," said Alton, " I think it was. There's only one 
way of arguing with a panther, and that beast's a good 
deal less dangerous than Hallam is. Now you'll ride in 
to the settlement to-morrow, and put up a notice at the 
store : ' The ranchers of the Somasco district are requested 
to attend a meeting at 6.30, Saturday.' At the bottom 
you'll put a big ' Important.' I've got to have a talk with 
you to-night." 

He made a hasty breakfast when they reached the ranch, 
and was busy at the sawmill, from which he did not re- 
turn until supper, all day, so that it was not until that meal 

134 



THE SOMASCO CONSOLIDATED 

pech"S mIs VrLLt'"Vr ''^^"' '»>« he had 
patently occupied with fom^'rlr ^'^' ''^ *'^«= ^'ove ap- 
«'as possible that her att,^*- ^''"'^ embroidery, but it 
?t«ches. Alton sat neafherZ-^''"' "°' ^"'"•''"'^d to the 
"J a deerhide cha r and it' i?^'"^ '•'I^'^''' "^fo^e him 
"jthem found spe;ch ne es^rt 'Th"*""' ."^=" ""^''h" 

rsr ^'"- -^ the^^irT^oi-hitt^ ::: 

she S. '""'-""^ di'l not find Vancouver en.ivenin." 
Alton laughed a little " T f^u 

Mt^USari'-e^^''^^^^^^^^^ "■"' ''°"''' 

while, and thfn'SanTeS' a°"th"e'" ""^^ ^'""-'''e^y ^r a 

ranch ? she said. ^'"' **"= 'ale of Townshead's 

A ton smiled a little " T'™ 
'Ve'g''-- ':0"«of them waf"'"^ ■""" "^ =f"i<J of 
coid^^ffil^b^-f^^^^ -d was inwardly 

but there was a subtil pleasure in^!!.-"" t"'' "dmiration^ 
this man's homage, while sh/.- ^"3^ '^^ recipient of 
offered her all of it hrwould Lt i,™"^'^ *^' ''^d he Z 
concerning Townshead '^ "°' ''"^^ "'^"e the admission 

^heS^ ™ roS'?-ii?isTkt'"r^"..'^°- *"-."• 

Alton nodded anH hL <• townshead." 

f ■>• " It's ver; ro"ugh"onT Xr 7t^^ .^^ -«=" - P^- 

J;,^.Hat used to be Z^tJi^J: ^ SL"s ^^at t'^tu? 

I:^^'^'^s^!^iJ^^:t:^ri can guess. Miss 

hadn't even fonni il . ^'"^"'^'y- "No," he said " <:^ 

course she would not have shown you what she 
135 



i'! 






ALTON OF SOMASCO 

thought." said the girl a trifle dryly. " And you were not 
responsible in any case." . ., , » .<xt„>" 

Alton glanced at her with some bewilderment. no. 
he said. •• Im sitting here with all that a man could wish 
for, while that girl, who was used to -.11 the good things 
you have in the old country, walks round and round the 
city looking for something she can earn a./^* dollars at 
when I mi|ht have fixed things differently if it hadn t been 
for Tom. It's hard to feel there's a meaner man than 1 
am in the Dominion." „t,„,j ,„h 

Miss Deringham saw the veins rise on his behead and 
the glint in his eyes, and shivered a little as she hoped the 
man would never discover it was not the rancher who had 

brought the shame upon him. ,„.^w,nir 

" Would it have been possible for you to do anything 

to help them if you had reached the ranch in time? she 

'^•' Yes," said Alton simply, " I think it would And 
it would have been better for everybody in the dis- 

'"Though the girl did not altogether understand him, his 
very quietness was impressive, for she knew by '^is time 
that what he stated was usually rather more tha 
fact 

■'Welt," she said lightly, " it was not your fat", 
will forget it presently." 

Alton smiled wryly. " I don't know, he said, 
are some kinds of stains that don't wash o"*- ^"t 7°":,^ 
only wishing to be kind to me because_you understand all 
that better than I do in the old country. 

The girl glanced asioe and dropped her needle wh.e 
when she spot- her voice was a trifle strained. Do you 
know that yo bushmen have made me ashamed once or 
twiM? " she said. " I am afraid there is a great^d.sappomt- 
ment waiting for vou when you see us as we are. _ 

Alton rose as her father and Seaforth came in, with a 
curious little inclination of Wsh^^d^hich came well from 
him "That simply couldn't be," he said. Well, its a 
pity I couldn't tell you all you have done for me alreadj 
and that's one reason why I'm so sorry the other thing will 
136 



:ss the 

, and you 

" There 



THE SOMASCO CONSOLIDATED 

an W,U"^- „3?:^^^^^^ -'' I »«- a good dea, .o do. 

at hfs rght. *' HetrrS^ ""''..?-"*rham sailed 
the man will feel it when^'nTf "P "> >■ ^'"'' ' ^ancy 
Ed"^-^.* finds y:u7u? •• he Sid '°""* 'P''*""^ 
o/ m;.p.^Si'-f,h^^^^^^^^^^^^ not conscious 

close by her. ' '"*"' *"«' PO'nted to the bookcase 

fan|s'U?;;;^^|f ^"'t. « that is where he gets his 

them ti sixll^lSf'-^^.-'.X'iro;'^' ^T -' °^ 
Kingsley, Scott. Now I wonder if £. '=°»"<=- Jennyson, 
a more common type than vfvlenn. ff r"'"* ""'* Elaine 
Carnaby. Still, if ^u lo3t a h'tt^"' ''^'^'^"' ''°"'e to 
■terature which mi^t throw a ^^nrtvTff''""^'^' *'«='•«' " 
the man's character. I notice a hTi,''''^'?"' '^^t upon 
wooded trees, somebody ontL ''"""^ ''°'"'"« °n sSft- 
lation to mini'n^andwhat I J^f "°'"«'-y. geology in re- 
on finance and tenkfug" '"°&"'^e as a standard work 

£nVlS^wtJfwit;^a^-•^ ^-^ «- 

■^rk at home," she said " H,. J trammg make his 
tionof returning with you?" mentioned any inten- 

were already growing "old and a olfe Z^T^' ^^ "'^hts 
>n the stove, while the hVht of tw« K- i P'"««'?°'' '^'"ackled 
bronzed faces of grave ieanillT ^ ^"!F^ ^«" "Pon the 
tantly towards AltOT He .;fJ^ ""'"' ^" turned expec- 
table, with Seaforth^side h?m ,°7«* ""^ ''^*'» °f the 
■■ayed-out white shirt from wWch hl^""""' ?°* "P '" » 

JftabTa'^d^tn^-^:!-^^^^^^^ 

^Hey were, for th^mo^t'^^^rt^llSt ^^^^^f^-^^^^^ 

^37 



I 






IM 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

and ceaseless warfare with the forest, and disdained any 
indication of curiosity. Nolxxly asl<cd a question, but the 
steady eyes which watched tlie convener of the meeting 
were mildly inquiring when he rose up. „ 

" I sent for you, boys, because it seemed the fairest thing, 
he said. "Now somebody has got o take hold with a 
tight grip if the dollars that are coming into it are to go 
to the men who have (ton.; Iht work in this valley. You 
have seen what has hapi" aed down Washington and Ore- 
gon way, and we don't any of us want it here in Lanada. 
When the good time came was it the man who d put in 
his twelve hours daily with the axe and crosscut who got 
the do''irs, or the one who lived soft in the cities? 

There was a little growl from several among the as- 
sembly, for most of those who sat there realized that it was 
sually the mortgage broker and speculator who reaped 
where the toilers with axe and saw had sown. 

"There'll have to be laws made to hold them fellows 
erio oflF the poor man," said somebody. 

Alton laughed a little. " Well," he said dryly it seems 
to me that the poor man should do a little of the holding 
off himself. Now I want you to listen carefully. Withm 
twelve months you'll see a new wagon-road cut south 
towards the big river, and inside two years the surveyors 
running the line for a new railroad into the bomusco 

vsllcv ' 

The" men stared at the speaker, and there was a murmur, 
almost of doubt, and wonder. They knew what that prom- 
ise meant, and it implied the opening of mines and mil s, 
a market for all they could raise on the spot, and the 
quadrupling in value of every ranch. Alton sat quietly im- 
perturbable at the head of the table. 

" And you believe the thing's going to be? said somc- 

"^I think," said Alton quietly, " I have just told you so." 
There was another murmur, of strong and patient men s 
unexpressed exultation, and Seaforth noticed that they had 
accepted his comrade's statement, without further question 
implidtlv. They were in some respects simple, and tie 
complex life of the cities was unknown to most ot lliem, 
138 



THE SOMASCO CONSOLIDATED 

AlVn^^n*1!."i""'" '^'^ somebody. 
Aiton nodded. " Yes " ho «!i^i .. ^r 

exactly why I know this'thintrl^Jll ^""^ ^ ""'' "^" )ou 
lie. any worse off if r Jere^J^ ""'"^ ^"'I >■"" ^""'dn't 
flight have gone ahead aTd brou°hf-vn' ""'"^^u>"" '^«= ^ 
ing a word to you " "rought you up without speak- 

eyes was preLfn??o L^'^dN'^'f ''h' f'l"' ■" '^^ steady 
''^he glanced at his paVn^T Alton J'" " ™™"^ "'"" 
quietly. F"»rinir. Alton, however, proceeded 

a man who sees this bet er thnn '"r 'J'^ "'<'• T'ere's 

on the Somasco valley a ,dhJe°n Z^ '''"?'^/"^ ^ ^■"'P 
the rest of us if he gets it " ^ "''^"■^ ''"'« 'eft for 

poor men frozen out nf thl^ %. ^°* >"" have seen 
with money in o"her oirt, of"'.!,'''""''" ='"'' <^'='™s by men 
the frontie^, and ther^e" usuallv onT""''^ '^^"" ^^ ^"-" 
when the man without the do ia°"'LT" ""^.'° "'« battle 
w h plenty. Stay right where v^,^ ^^^l"*' *« •"=>" 
';<^''l open, timber right that are T, •"■' T^ '"ortgages 
■lone nothing, and undevelnnJ ' ^'"3^ ''"^"""e You've 
■"an who sits scheming whurvou^;^""'.-''*''''"'' ='"d the 
you out one by one " ^ -^"^ '^ """""& «'" squeeze 

^■;!ence'?o^1''^;-e'.'thT';:f hlT'^'''^'-^' 2"" '''-^ ^as 

of their life hewing the cTearin., ftT' '^' ^'' -^" 

farther into the virgin forelfi^^- *^' ^^^ «° s'owly 

virgin forest, faring sparingly, and only 

»39 






ii!. 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

quitting that herculean toil to earn sufficient dollars rail- 
road building or working at the mines to feed them when 
they continued it again. They had sown the best that was 
in them of mind and body, giving all they had, courage 
that never faltered, as well as the ceaseless effort of over- 
strained muscle, and as yet their fee was but the right 
to hope and toil. And now, they knew, it was once more 
possible that the full-fleshed taxer of other men's labours 
would sweep what was theirs into his gamer. 

"Yes," said Alton. "And what has happened before 
will happen again — unless you stir round and stop it. 
That's the only use in remembering things. Standing 
alone, Hallam and his crowd will squeeze you out one by 
one; standing fast together for what is your own, you re 
fit to choke off anybody, and what I've called you here 
for is to see whether we can't fix up a Co-operative Com- 
pany ! " , 

A man stood up with a light in his eyes. " Then you ve 
hit the thing plumb where you wanted," he said. " Whose 
standing in with Alton of Somasco, boys ? " 

There was a roar this time, and then a silence as if the 
assembly felt that they had done an unseemly thing, but it 
was evident that they were all of them ready. 

" I figure you've got a programme? " said somebody. 
" I have," said Alton. " i'U have a bigger one by and 
by, but in the meanwhile it includes the selling of timber 
in place of destroying it, and a doubling right off of the 
Somasco mill. It also takes in a gristmill, the recording 
of more timber rights, and most of you getting in on the 
ground floor of a new silver mine. There's to be an office 
down in Vancouver, and a desiccated fruit store, and the 
best men we can get hold of to run them. Now sit still 
while I read what might do for a scheme." 

They sat very still, and even Seaforth, who knew his 
comrade, wondered a little, for that scheme, while crude in 
one or two directions, was eminently workable. It provided 
for a pro rata division of profits and partition of expenses, 
while each man would retain the control of his own holding, 
and those who listened nodded now and then as they noted 
the rfSciency of some portion of the plan of co-operation. 
140 



THE SOMASCO CONSOLIDATED 

:T^^/^i^^'r^^,'!y'!^, <^ow„ the paper, 
bring out a better." '"^ '° ''^'^n 'f any msMan 

t^^^^,7lLtt:!i:^,r!'AT^,^os, up at the foot of 
he can. Every dollar I can raise ,? f ? '"P'^' ''°"'' ^hink 
standing in with Alton! Here4 th^ f "^ '"' A"'^ *<='« all 
and to with Hallam " ^""'^'^ Consolidated. 

giraT/ Cttinrfe'^eVc'^ ««/ -' » ^Hnk of 
bronzed men thronged about thf.'\^°' °"« the big 
from the head of Sble? ''"' "^^^ "^^'^ ^*- *em 



«4t 



CHAPTER XIV 



THE COMPACT 

After the first meeting of the Somasco Consolidated, 
Alton was frequently absent from the ranch, and spent most 
of the nights shut up with bulky books, while he also 
apparently became involved in an extensive correspond- 
ence with the cities. There were, however, times when 
Miss Deringham surprised him standing still and gazing 
into vacancy, which was distinctly unusual with him, but 
the girl, who had once or twice noticed his eyes fixed upon 
her and signs of an inward conflict in his face, was not 
displeased. She could arrive at a tolerably accurate deduc- 
tion as well as most young women. 

In the meanwhile Seaforth had gone down to Vancouver, 
and Deringham still appeared content to linger at Somasco. 
He had, his daughter knew, been ordered a lengthy rest, 
and it was evident that the tranquillity of the mountain 
ranch was benefiting him physically, though now and then 
the girl noticed that his face was anxious when communica- 
tions from England reached him. She was also, for no 
reason she was willing to admit, content to remain a little 
longer at Somasco. 

One night when she was sitting meditatively in the room 
set apart for her use, Alton passed the half-opened door, 
and noticing the curious slowness of his pace she signed 
him to enter. She had, somewhat to the indignation of 
Mrs. Margery, taken the room in hand, and with the aid of 
a few sundries surreptitiously brought from Vancouver with 
Seaforth's connivance, made a transformation in its aspect. 
A red curtain hung behind the door. There were a f:w 
fine furs which Seaforth had collected here and there about 
the ranch upon the floor, and Alton, who had just returned 
from a ride of forty miles through the mire and rain, stopped 
a moment upon the threshold. He was a man of quick 
142 



THE COMPACT 



S'onts'occupam ""^ ''"""^ ^'^'"P«=d with the per- 

solid masculine proportions a?H K ^ wnsc.ous of his own 
glanced deprecat'in^ri T^^rl X"f''' n™^"'^ ^^^e 
fulness in a basket chair vfr, n ^ '^>' "^'^^ '"'he grace- 
while he dimly understood tl«f tf'f''^ ""'^ ^^^^ Pretty. 
m?ve but only sniiled at 1,' •''^^^'^' "^^t she did not 

brightness Aas^hed to his eve,"""'''' \^°°'^ d^^'- A 
again. ''° "'s eyes and sank out of them 

"'t' VH-^ li:^!,? ^"^t ^^'1^ '; ' •'^ -n very 
casual chatter will'do'^u no harnr. Jh'^" "^'^-^'n-hour-s 
to you a terrible waste of t"me"' "'""^'^ " ""^y ^PPear 

beneatMr [^is^'ce'wr' '"'V ''^^- -h-h creaked 
"Pticed the stiffnes of hi mlTv '''''*. *'"^^- ^"'^ thTgW 
about him with a curious expressfon'"K-- u"' ="'° '°°kcd 
gest everence in his eyes " "^^""^ '^^"'ed to sug- 

, A'i-'^iS^^:^^;; ^ S^^" V' ^ ^-'^ °^ t-e." 
trifle nearer the stove. It was li t)^' f f ."r^^ °"^ foot a 
and lost nothing from beinT^n V"'' ''d'cately moulded 
^'■pper. Alton^nofc-ngTlfe si eht''n"H ^VA'" ^rote' 

"^< Sis^%^^t:;j:^'l,-J^^;g..iberties," said the g.l. 

P'acet,: ,re :"t^:f^-J^o^ ^ >ou know, this 
1 were m church." said he ' "'^''" "^^ ^cel-as if 

<;nierw?eTtTa: ':Z:^T ^P-^-ve. There were 

■s rancher's pres«,ce ^'''A senLtion ""/ r"?"""^''"" '" 

to become oppressive," she sair -Mv,?^ *^' '''"d is apt 

you will throw these thinjs away' - " ^' ''""^ &°"« 

"f ^omeTng't'^:'' '"^/Jrfn v "^^"^"^ *« contemplation 
companion gravely. '^"' *° ^'"'- but he looked at hi" 

'43 



U>i 







ALTON OF SOMASCO 

" T think I shall screw the door up tight," he said. 

Alice Deringham laughed musically. " Now I think that 
was very pretty," she said. " It seems commonplace to oflFer 
you a cup of coffee after it, and no doubt you will consider 
the indulgence in such luxuries a sign of weakness. I have 
reasons for believing that Mrs. Margery does." 

Alton smiled somewhat grimly. " I'm just about as fond 
of good things as most other men," he said. " The difficulty 
was that I seldom had the chance of getting them." 

Miss Deringham busied herself with a spirit lamp, and 
Alton watched her with a little glint iu his eyes. Possibly 
the girl knew that her movements were gfraceful as she bent 
over the lamp, and thiit the light from the one above her 
struck a fine sparkle from her hair. She may also have 
been aware that the picture had its attractions for a man 
who had lived a grim life of toil and self-denial, as this one 
had done. 

" It has occurred to me that this coffee is not the same 
that we had when we first came to Somasco," she said. 

Alton appeared a trifle embarrassed. " I had to go down 
and worry Horton about one or two little things," he said. 
" It's good for him occasionally, and he had been sending 
me flour we couldn't use lately." 

Miss Deringham nodded, though she was quite aware 
that the storekeeper was scarcely likely to supply axemen 
and ranchers, whose tastes were simple and dollars scarce, 
with what she guessed by its bouquet was the finest product 
of Costa Rica. If she had not been, she was capable of 
deducing a little from the stamp upon the packets she had 
seen in Mrs. Margery's store, which showed that they had 
come direct from V;mcouver. 

Alton took up the cup handed him, and leaned back in 
his chair with a little gesture of content, while the girl 
smiled as she glanced at him. 

" You bear it very well," she said. 

The man looked at her with a bewildered escpression for 
a moment or two. Then he laughed. " No," he said, " I 
find it wonderfuUv nice." 

There was an underlying sincerity in his voice, and Alice 
Deringham driven by curiosity went a step farther. 

144 




ALTON LEANED BACK WITH A „TTLE r..~ 

CONTENT.-/.^, '^" GESTURE OF 



THE COMPACT 



"The coffee? "she said. 
tim«%:n:d''u71SX r-"'. ^o^^he had at other 

or desired fro.S thT un Sed d Us"o"f t '''"^ .-P«=«'=1 
For a second or two there w«, ? the man's nature. 

changed into =« litirglow she shranf frnJ'-'^i:'-""'- ^^''^ 
turned them upon her, Tnd then awav.nH'H'"' ^^^'^ ""= 
mo.-e grave when he iMkeH wu ^' "I t^^y were once 
what tiat effort had coTthfm''' '^'"- ^'"'' '^' guessed 

You see. ^hal'^ne^ „"„.!,"'„,'"'' "^'"^=" "^e coffee, 
anything smooth or pretty" ^°" """= •"='*= '^^" "«d to 

The tn^^aoTghriiai :s%hrsh''*^M™^"^^^^^ 

somewhat pointless^ compHmenta^s tht =°"''' """"Pi "'*' 
former speech, to cover h.^„;cf,i, 'c ^^1"?^"=^ "^ his 
more than he^hought deJfrawf iVf 1 ''' •''^'^ "^'^^^^d 
hking for him, since it aoDeareH f't,,^ a u '° '""^sed her 

to her the fascinatfon of thrn •'""''='" ^™"''«='-' described 
a geyser to serhormanf ^°r^/uk?^r '"-^ '^^■" °^ 
During her intercourse with rancher aL^"!?- " ^["P.'^"^- 
ham had experienced the sensl^fon ' ' '^''" ^'''"^' 

too,!°thi!;k-' sterd"'''"^ "^ ""^^ '^"='^- -d worrying. 

a wht tn^aV^at'thou'r '"'"^'^ '' ^''^ ^*°- 'or 
When he looked uoae-linfh. =°T*""'".^ ^"^ "^'-""elf. 
decided somethfng P..^ork hurtfnn.l^""''^T ^^^l ^' ^ad 
that leaves the mark " he «iH . vl "'^^.y- ^' ' '''« worry 
Rood many t^Srfe wiM h^l ' T,^ ^ ""'l^' ^^ =°"'-se. a 
IVe..ent?inCfaSde:n:?^^°" ^'^^ "^f"- ^-' 
*4?;: :Sf' S^.3^- -» one's friends one's 

'houldl.a^'yel'fdoKi;;;**''!"'^ ' ^'''"^ ^ ^-' I 
•n the way of m^ doing ^omX^^dst'?"''^ " ^""^^ '"^^ 

MS 






5A.LT0N OF SOMASCO 

"That is a somewhat common difficulty," said Alice 
Deringham. " It depends upon the importance to yourself, 
or others, of the first thing. ' 

Alton nodded. "There are," he said, "men in this 
district who have worked very hard, not for the bare living 
the ranch gfives them, because some have put a good deal 
more into the land than they have taken out of it, but for 
what it will give them presently. Now, unless somebody 
does the right thing for them, another man will walk right 
in and take all they have worked for away. I wouldn't 
like that to happen, because I am one of them, you see." 

" No," said Miss Deringham. " Still, sun lising that you 
are the somebody, I wonder if you have a more convincing 
reason." 

A little flush seemed to creep into Alton s bronzed face. 
" I find I can talk to you as I never did to any one else," 
he said. " Well, this valley's waiting to feed a host of 
people, and teeming with riches that somebody is wanting, 
and I feel it's my task to do the best I can for it. Now, 
when one feels that, and does nothing, he's putting a load 
he was meant to carry on other people's shoulders." 

"Yes," said Miss Deringham. "Still, isn't it slightly 
«>f otistical ? There may be other men who could do what 
is necessary better." 

Alton laughed a little. "You get right home every 
time," he said. " I've been thinking the same thing, but, 
though I wanted to, I couldn't find the man, and there 
isn't much use in running away from the work that's set 
out for you." 

Alice Deringham understood him because she was a 
somewhat intellectual young woman, though she had, and 
possibly fortunately, but seldom been required tf- 
between inclination and duty in any aflfair of imp 
hitherto. Tb-ire was also something that touched . 
the man's simple faithfulness. 

" And you are going to do a good deal ? " she said. 
" I don't know," said Alton gravely. " I should like to. 
You see, we want roads and mills, and an office down there 
in the city." 
" And," said the girl, " that means money. 

146 



icide 
■nee 
- in 



THE COMPACT 



he finds out thai ,?"■ folk J wh A"""" 8^°*V^°"nd borrowing 
keep them. That^ w^\'. *''° .!L=^"= »°' ']'' dollars like tS 
silver mine." ' ^^^ ^ •" go'ng up to look for Jimmy's 

Miss Deringham shivered a littl- "ur • 
on," she said. " The laTt rn,n i^ i . .^'"'er « com ng 
-and there is Carnaby " ° ^°°^'"^ ^°' '' *« f'°«n 

Jtfe'^LC^Hl„?;°r m\^f fU^^^^^^^ S« ^^<^ ^P^-^e. 
attention. Again the curiou,^fnf t^ "^^'"^ '"'^^P*'" *'«'• 
eyes and thelarm bro^nTa" Hfe'^^H ^ ""' ^ ''^ 
to,"Kd'. "'" "™"= ^"""^ °" CarnV biu don't want 

said. '^ ^° ^°" '"*^'' 'o find the silver? " she 

thZfir'st.'-'''' ^"°" ^™P'y- "I f««« I have got to do 

in?erS.''coSurwfcvf ''/''^ ^■^' '--'' back 
was watching her Her eves w/rr"f?'"'u*''^' ^^^ «">» 
faintest trace of colour showed in her chltl *''l", "''I!"'' '^'^ 

^.^i ti..k ,„„ „ii, ta „,^,„,. , j^ ^^^ __.,,,, ^^ 

have a good deal to do," he said ""^ """^ ^ 

when'h^^:d"gtTout°sanrdo"'* ' "'"e.^'ateliness, and 
chair again Ter han^, I,v contemplatively into the 

147 



\l '. ) I 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

greatness behind his simp'icity. Granting that, she could 
see his standpoint clearly, though it was more difficult to 
understand why such a man had made it evident to her. 
He was, she knew, not one to stoop even to win a woman's 
good opinion, and would have seen that in this direction 
silence became him best, unless he felt that while so much 
was due to honour there was something due to her. 

He had told her simply that it was not to please himself 
he was going out to look for the silver just then, and the 
deduction was that the expedition had no attractions for 
him because he wished to stay at the ranch. Allowing 
that, the revelation of his motive had not been purposeless. 
It was only his responsibility drove him away from her, and 
there was a vague but effective compliment in the implication 
that she would recognize it. Still, this train of reasoning 
had led Alice Deringham far enough, and she _ sought 
distraction from it in her embroidery, which during the 
next hour progressed but indifferently. 

It was a day or two later when Alton drew Deringham 
into his room when he came in bemired all over from the 
settlement, and the financier noticed that the table and most 
of the floor was littered with books, survey plans, and mis- 
cellaneous papers. 

" I'll have to leave this place for a little," he said. " I'm 
going up to find the silver, but the ranch and all that's in 
it is at your service just as long as it pleases you. If all 
goes as I expect it, I shall be back in a month or so, and 
would be glad to find you still at Somasco. Then, if you 
are ready, Charley and I will go back to the old country 
with you. A lawyer in Vancouver has written to an English 
accountant for me, and with him to help us we can fix up 
all about Camaby." 

Now Deringham had up to that moment still retained a 
hope that he could arrive at an understanding with Alton 
respecting Carnaby on the spot. As it was,_ unless he 
could gain time, exposure and even worse things stared 
him in the face. It had been comparatively simple to 
hoodwink his co-trustee, but it would be very different with 
an accountant of reputation, and he had also g^rown afraid 
of Alton's instinctive grasp of whatever subject he turned 

148 



,THE COMPACT 



concentrated u^n 'issues onm^Trtrnce "''""°" "^' •"<"•" 

dismiro^'^'aTtoJjsZtnT &t ^"' ' ,"".lf ^^'"^^ °^ 
would not have held hu „ , '^^ ''^"e ^ do so, he 

followed. HU breLth camraTr fle"^ '" '"'= "l^P'"'"" "e 
hand trembled a 1.^ e but h, , .^i '^°'^ ''""''''>'• ="d his 
all that Alton notWd i,!^! '*"'"' ." "P°" •'•e table, and 

about the «mer of his LrTh '"T" J'"'"= '"'^vement 
bered it. *^ "' ^^^ rancher, however, remem- 

away a month you see^ ,Vd^„ When you spoke of being 
being absent longTr." '° contemplate a possibility of 

Alton nodded. " I did " he «;,l •• tu 
the silver is lying up there stillhl r- ^' '"='■", *'«' ^"""^ 
thing of that kind haooeniL fo ''^ Provided for any- 

or two. Now I don'^ThTl? ^^'.'' y°" ^'" «« '" a day 
we get to Camaby " ""^ *" "'^^'^ ^""^ «"y more until 

.vo^%K^tTr^, "//-r-^^h "-' *"« ^■"' 

grapple with his torturinranxietv ™A? «^ M"' °"' '» 

scarcely think of anything cfnsecutlvelv^L"* '"^ """'^ 
picture of a man hano-,„„ », ■ • y* *"'' °nce more the 

frothing down™he™i.ln ^ J""'P=^-''"^h with a river 
his memorv I wa^°;f^?!^\™*« "P Persistently before 

figure keeping warchwTh eves tt^""'" °^ ^^■'" «>«"' 
stare beside f frozen Trail ^ ''''" "*"«'' '''"^ '"cd 

-o?e" lnVrnVKnhere'''=C"'"-'=^ ■'"'^ "°«°"'=' 
appeared ironically amused fh^ 7 ^ """'"^^ speculator 
^'vage, but when IlaTam tunned tf n.^^P1f ''"l''*'' *"^ 
something in his nanZrthi* Denngham there was 

by accident! '' "''" '"&&«tcd they had not met 

SoSos^;y!';|"f „';;^^^^^^^ not to lay in too many 

an hour oi wo!" he safd " Kn^"* '" **"= ''""' ''^™ ^°^ 

shouldn't have a drintw'fh me v""" '"^ ''*'^" ^^^ y°^ 

They strolled into an adjoining room, and Horton. who 

149 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

supplied them with a bottle and glasses, came back smiling 
sardonically. " Now if Hallam hadn't put it that way I 
mightn't have thought anything," said he. " Still, when a 
man of his kind Ukes the trouble to tell one anything it's a 
blame good reason for not believing him." 

In the meanwhile Hallam, who filled the glasses, glanced 
at Deringham. " You think I can be of some use to you? " 
he said. 

" Yes," said Deringham. " I presume you know Alton is 
going up to find the silver he needs to help him traverse 
your schemes ? " 

" Oh, yes," said Hallam. " Still I should have figured he 
could have got it out of Camaby." 
" I believe he intends to." 

Hallam smiled unpleasantly. " Now I begin to under- 
stand you," he said. " You lost a good many dollars over 
the Peveril." 

" I think that is lieside the question," said Deringham. 
Hallam regarded his companion steadily. " Well, I don't 
know, but we needn't argue. You don't want him to get 
those dollars out of Carnaby ? " 

" And you don't want him to find the silver." 
Hallam laughed. " That's quite right," said he. " The 
same thing would suit both of us." 

" I scarcely think so," said Deringham. " In my case, I 
really do not mind whether he gets the dollars from 
Carnaby or not." 

" No? " said Hallam. " Then you'll have to tell me what 
you want." 

" I don't want him to come over to England too soon. 
If anything kept him up there among the mountains a 
month or so longer than he expected, so that I should have 
time to straighten up things a little, I would not com- 
plain." 

"And," said Hallam, "you would be ready to pay 
for it?" 

Deringham bent his head. " Yes. To a moderate ex- 
tent." 

Hallam sat silent for a time, and then looked up with a 
glint in his beady eyes. " It could be done. Well, I don t 

ISO 



THE COMPACT 

want him to find that silver and if h^ a u 
!'is prospecting in the ne« mnmh IP'.?,'' '«* ""•""gh 

of anything iinder six ^It °? °' '"' ''*' " "" ^"'1 "'uch 
things upfs I wrnt';heX?Jr/itTmehed''"M''^^' ''"•^'^ 
holding prettv heavy in thrArnn, t ■ °- '^"^^ >■"" re 
wanting Vo get my fL in Vh„f''' '"'"«' ^n'' I've been 

Deringham sf^d un Ja,^ '"' ' '■' '"S *h»<=" 
passed 1^-m. ■•^loT:^'^JXZ f'^It "^'r "^"'^ """«'" 
•■nderstand that if AIt„n7s hel-' ,m .""''" '■, ^*"' y°" '° 
over it is all I ask," he said "^ '"* """' ^«"mbcr is 

Hallam nodded " f )h v..o •• i ■ ■ 

""th^ "'jh"'- 'hares tVans'^'e 'red to rf. " ^" ^ '^•■"'' " ^ 
They debated for a while nM n/ ■: , ■ , 

rd :arviKel"e"?^b» '''j" -"'" ->• but 
to me." ' ^"^ '° '•"y 'hem u.tli made out pa;ab!e 

" ThPn"'"*'" '"'^ Deringham. " not suit mc " 

th.sE^i:^ou^^|;;an7if\nVhfn'. ''' ""''""•^ P-'ing 
to have somebody to stand fn -1^°*" ""'"'■S^ ''"t ""^iou! 
the dollars if Hoesn't I'm ^Ti.'"' ""^^^ ^'•■" *' P'^l up 
it is. Take it orleave it " '"^ ^"'"= '*^^'&ht.' Ther? 

'^st?fcoT:pSr"entrci" „^^ '^^'^"^''^'' ^ ■'■«'- 

Hallam filled ^^^^^''l^'i^^^ ^-l 
^^n•ngt^%':^S- - «He Somafo Cololfi^ted*:^ 

"allam. who sat down and .^n^'^ ^^" "^^"^ °"'- ^^ile 
"That man might have keothUH^,'"''' ""''"='' '■•onically. 
pleased if Alton stayed uP there a t Ta ?'' '"^ ^ -J^ite 
months." said he '^ *^ * ^""'^ ^^^' "'ore than two 

'4Sfcs::^eiui^hr"t"*= •^^''■■■■^ -'''"^ -* 

ment on the London stock mX and'h'" ' '""L" """""'^h- 
of one or two comoanie, %l/ 'iT^ ''?"'P«'" *he working 
be a much poorer manln a ^ewmnml,'" ^" ^'. '"' '^°"''' '^^ 

151 



i 1 






ALTON OF SOMASCO 

messenger, and rode slowly back towards Somasco, while 
Horton spent some time examining a blottmg-pad in his 

back store. . , . , ,. ^ ^..a •• 

•' I'm kind of sorry I can't make anything of that stutt, 

said he. " What's the use of wiring any one the names ot 

" During the next day Alton drew Deringham into his 
room, and laid a document on the table. " I don t know if 
that's quite the usual thing, but Horton and I n?ve t^e^ 
worrying over a lawyer's book, and I think it will hold, 

^Deringham took up the paper, and again there was the 
little movement at the corners of his eye as he read. 

" I Henry Alton, of Somasco ranch, being now in sound 
health, and as clear of head as usual, but about to start on a 
journey to which there are risks attached, hereby bequeath 
in the event of disaster overtaking me the estate of Camady, 
England, with all its rents and revenues of any kind what- 
ever to which I am entitled, to Miss Alice Deringham 

dauehter of . In case of my decease during the next 

six months, the above-mentione : . alph Deringham and 
my partner Charles Seaforth, of Somasco, British Columbia, 
will acting as trustees, either dispose of the estate for the 
benefit of Miss Deringham or install her in possession of it 

at her discretion." n„:„„i„m 

There was a little more to the purpose, and Deringham 

read all of it. " This is very generous," he said. 

" No," said Alton, " it's only just, and it can t be verv 

generous, because Camaby wouldn't be much use to me il 

I don't come back. I could, of course, revoke this thing 

Deringham said nothing. There was a good deal he 
wished to sav. but for once words failed him, and when he 
went out with the will in his pocket his face had grown a 
trifle grey. Yet though he suffered grievously in ha 
moment he was conscious of something m his brain that 
throbbed in time to the refrain, " Alice Deringham, mistress 
of Carnaby." 



isa 



CHAPTER xy 

ON THE TRAIL 

";ist''SlC^rpi'„;7Z''':°'^^ "'^ '«■•"• and thin 
who was setting out to fi.^,»u ^^""y °ne morning Alton 
verandah of So^asco ranch Th". f-T,' ''°°^ "P°" the 
dripped upon two mri; h„?' ■ .*''"^'*'e from the eav« 

and Tom^of OkanS °rbr/'a"^ '" "'^ mire b: J" 
hewing with Alton when D^;^ ^., ^''T^" *ho had been 
ranch, stood motionYess i?fh £ ?"'.'^!-^' met him at the 
apparently as oWivious of The rafn^, .h'""^' \ ^'^ hand! 
owforth was at the head of the stal ^ ^'^t' '^'''"d '"m 
h's back, and the barrel nf,?l ^'a'rway with a pack uijon 

f pulders. Bevond lay a blSrren'''"/"'^. ^'°P^d Across 'ws 
draping trees.- *^ * '""'^'^'' ^'^ta of driving rain and 

"pon?he%:^aS.''aTfte'"errf sh^ ''^V^'''- -- also 
eazed northwards i^to the miS Tf ''''' * "''^^ ^s she 
men l.'^°" the rolling vaZu„ Ifd ,' !i T^^''^ ""d 
men who ventured into ft at%h^l °' ^"^ ^he knew the 
find their courage ind endu4n.?f \°", °^ '^^ ^^ar would 
There were but three ^f"^^"'^« tested to the uttermost 
="ready that thev were a I ttL?' ''"'. '^' ^'<^ discovered 

^a,%*X^^- ,tt le^X^d t^^rtn*^^ 
"!'<■ tang where „,„" J ? °"""'" ""■! W<I« nactSS 

IS3 





!! . 




1 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

ham, Tom of Okanagan moved forward with the horses, 
and Alton was left alone with Alice Deringham Neither 
of them spoke for a moment, and it was noticeable that the 
eirl who knew that silence is often more expressive than 
speech and had acquired some skill in avoiding unpleasant 
situations, was for the moment unable to break it. It was 
Alton who spoke first, and his voice was a trifle too even. 
" You will be gone when we come hack? " he said. 
The girl noticed he did not look at her, and fancied she 
understood the reason. This was a strong man, but it 
seemed he knew there were limits to his strength. 

" Yes " she said. " The time we spent at Somasco has 
passed very pleasantly, but we shall go down to Vancouver 
in a day or two." „ . , 

It seemed verv trivial, for Alice Deringham was quite 
aware that this might be the last time she would look upon 
her companion, but she had bidden farewell to men of his 
kind before. Thev had worn their nation s khaki, an< 
Alton wore deerskin and jean, with the shovel girded 
about him in place of the sword : but she knew there was m 
him the same spirit that animated them, and that it was a 
silent spirit made most terribly manifest in action. _ 
" I hope you will have a good time down there, lie 

**The girl glancing at him in sidelong fashion noticed his 
curious little smile "Oh, yes, I think I shall, she sa.l, 
" I shall expect to hear you have come back with the silver. 

Alton nodded. " Yes," he said. When I come back 
I shall have found the silver." 

He spoke quietlv, and there was nothing unusual in Us 
voice, but glancing at his eyes the girl understood what he 
had left unspoken. If this man did not return with Ii.> 
object accomplished, she felt it would be because he would 
not come back at all. , .,, 

Then there was another silence more oppressive sum. 
until Alton held out his hand. ; I must b= Romg, he sa.ri^ 

Alice Deringham was conscious of a little thrill as ric 
fingers rested in his big, hard palm, and when he released 
them waited for a moment with a curious expectancy. 

- • • wishes with you, she said. 



' You will take my good 



154 



Oi\ THE TRAIL 



Alton bent his heari •• r 

,?>. that t^ Z^ dd'„'ot's*/,S;'r^^'^ "^^ "-^ a I,«,e 
■f 't would please you " ''" ^^"- " Y«." she said! 

'']]^n/-»^?Jtei-n. down his wet hat. 

-ft thud"o/Ss%:fe "T '"°-"'- 'here was a 
™m,tehehadgone/andAlifeSJ\'""''' ^"'^ ■" ^n^r 

father stopped close by her "Th„ •'""^.'"^'"' ""til her 
deal in heredity," he said "n. "f " evidently a eood 

holders who had gone befor^ h° ^ generations of land- 
s-ngle purpose who has ^raDoled '••/^ '""" ^"™^ted by a 
^ubdumg the weaknesses^ffitd .^".'"^'"^"^'1 "-tu'^-e! 

:^y^""^'^^'^C^:^^^'=f}y - her father. 

'"Ok m his face, and he seemlJ. ' u"' *"= «'^s a cuHous 
^'-y cold, and Ae rain' dmve info tT' ''7''' h°weve"r 
, "was ten days later and fhL %. ^ verandah, 
or the horses through a "haosof",^ P'^'^' ='""nR a path 
M made with difficuhysom. ■'"" "'""''^ ^"d Thickets 

<-m breeze moanina in th? „• ' .^ '''^er and the littli. 

155 



111 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

himself to understand a little of the nature of the beasts 
that worked for him, and when he heard another movement 
crept to the tent door. 

Looking out he could see the pines lifting their spires of 
blackness against the night where they followed the ridge of 
a hill. That was on the one hand, but on the other they 
rolled, vague and blurred, down into a vast hollow from 
which the mist was drifting. The sound of the river rose 
reverberating from its profundity of shadow, for it had cost 
the party most of a day to climb to the height they had 
pitched the camp upon. There was but little light over- 
head, though here and there a star blinked fitfully, and 
Alton shivered again, for it was very cold and but little past 
the hour when man's vitality sinks to its lowest. 

Raising himself a trifle he listened again with ears that 
could distinguish each component of the nocturnal har- 
monies. No one but a bushman could have heard them. 
J j but to those who toil in the stillness of that forest-shrouded 

i I land the silence is but the perfect blending of musical 

■ sound. There was the faintest of crisp rattles as the 

withered needles shook down from a twig, and then a sigh 
and a whisper along the dim black vault above, as though 
a spirit hovered above the sleeping earth. Alton heard, am 
knew it was not the wind, for the little breeze had paust'l 
while the river made it answer in subdued antiphones. I it- 
had dwelt in close contact with the soil he sprang from, and 
there were times when he felt his nature thrill in faint 
response to the life there is in what the men of the cities 
deem inanimate things. 

Then a leaf sailed past the tent, and he knew what tree it 
came from as it touched the earth, and .strained his ears tlic 
more, wondering what he listened for, as he, and others ot 
his kind, had done in the bush before. It could be, lie 
almost felt, nothing material, and yet, though they did not 
move now, he knew the horses were also listening. Tliat 
had its meaning, for man cannot measure his keenest scnf^c'; 
with those of the beasts of the field. The little brcivc 
awoke again, and shook fantastic harmonies out of tlic 
shivering trees, and one horse stamped. The other whccleil 
and snorted, and Alton sprang back into the tent, as sonic- 

156 



^wmmMm 



ON THE TRAIL 



Ml^V"-^^^^^^^^^^ -""^ 'hat sug- 

Alton was out of the temL . "* '"^""""^ <^^^ broke out 

S^he"^"'=^"^^ f-' "hat" they wTr^'aU"' ^eaforth :fte"- 
"earu the soiin 1, arti Tom «f u ^ ^11 mov me- when h„ 



Altr,\, • 't^ "P™te thine — "-'■■g!. to aiwa 

-?*r;-^^Str-'t"--heope„- 

r[:*\-:^"^,;^^aforth kaTLt^^r. .}''' .P^^ "ad drfwn 



■^"^riH;"'"' , "o^-^ "nfortunate. h'ec7Z''th"^^'^'^ ""e open- 



157 



and before Mtoa could 



> 





ALTON OF SOMASCO 

pick himself up the horses were sweeping in a panic through 

the shadowy bush. c„f^,*v, " Wp 

"Anything the worse, Harry?" said Seaforth. We 

had better get off at once while there's the sound to 

^"AUon' laughed softly, as he did now and then when he 
might have been disconcerted. " I can't beat a Cayuse 
Charley, and I don't think you'll hear ihem very long, he 

**Tom of Okanagan grunted approval, and the three stood 
still, until the drumming of hoofs was lost in the silence of 

'*'" They're gone," said Seaforth. "Do you mean to do 

"°" Y"e!,''"said Alton. " I am going to stop right where I 
am until there's light enough to trad them by. Do you 
know anything better, Tom?" , Tm not 

" No," said the man from Okanagan. Stil , 1 m not 
quite as good at thinking just now as I w.°"'d ''^!, «° ° , : 
The last time I felt like this was when S.wash Bob took 
the back of the axe to me. I figure that was a panther. 
" Yes." said Alton ; " it was a panther. 
" Well " said Okanagan, " did you ever hear of one that 
went for a horse close up with a tent before . 

" I have " sai'l Alton, " seen a panther that turned on a 
man who wantec' to get a shot at it in the °"d^'-Ky°'fth. 

•' Oh ves," .said Okanagan. Hcd got somethmg hi . 
caught'for dinner in the bushes, bnt it's kind of curious tl'.a. 
beasts come round and howl at us. Anyway, we cant hn. 
out nothing until the da> light comes. 

They crawled back into the tent, and it was charac - 
istic of them that although the loss of the horses m , 
raversc all their plans they went to sleep again . 
awakened as the beasts do, instinctively, when the h r t 
Hght crept ovpr the shoulder of the hill. Ten mmim^^ 
air Alton had the fire lighted, and sat down bes.de ,t v,..h 
the frvpan in his hand. The recovery oft^e horses w; 
a question of im,K.rtance, but it might well entad a 1. 
iotlrnev, and he knew that to commence it withm t 
breakfast would be distinctly unwise of him. Accor(hni,b 
138 



ON THE TRAIL 



tt rXS,':'aXn; S^ - J'7 -•'*' -,ted and 
roled before hi,/a wondrous tr.n^"'' '°"" "'^^^ *'''' """ 
When he had t^t^Zv "^^"fformation scene. 

formless, wraS in birkne«''' .the wilderness had Iain 
the great pines rising row and ;oTTr'''''..'"1.P^ff^"- ^ov^ 
heavenwards with all their "omhr.!" ""' ''°"°^^ P°i"ted 
upwards ever over the rock thaMn,^ •?"■"• ^"'^ ^''^ the eye 
to the gleam of snow ffr up n H^' ^'■'^'"'" ^"^ ^""t«d 
sundered from earth favfL*^ ^ empyrean that was 

Alton realized dhnlv atttle c/ ti^rmnt""' 7^°"^ 'P'"'"-' 
[elt that the world Vas eood fnr ^""^'"^ °^ the scene, and 
he stood up stretc in/hNT", • ^'u"^ ''°"'" the frypan 
rejoiced in the strenrth nf v™' ^''"''^ his head as he 
hke most of the bushmen hi h'^ ^'^°'°"^ "'^"hood. Still 
speech. ''""™^" ''« did not express his feelings in 

'he Si^^^.o^:;^^'^;':,^- ^'- ^°- -dding. Xum out. 
AhonU;^^A°,^r;;,^;;V:,;y^,;iid not eat in haste, and 

'he hole out of which one of\remh!.'^ h"^^""^' '""^ ="- 
Pe?. The redwoods which toll eH.fe t-"^" *''<> P'^l^et- 
fJirth, and it would have needed a In ru"" ^"^ ^^'' "^ 
"■"1, while there waV nn t [ F ''^"^'' t" encompass 
'^•ill. though he Larci erdifemlv %' '^' ^^« °^^o 
Pnnt which might have hLn 7v! u •'■ .""^ '''^ "ot find any 

■;'■ regretted that there was a rW^'of T "' ' P^"*-- 
'he camp. ^ ^ "^'^Se of rock outcrop behind 

"^^^hl^iT "" '""^^>-- - '- wouldn't have come so 
;^^;^r;;:-^tj:^,A,toncame^^ 
'Unasan .strode in with Zhin TI I i ^^"''^ T^O"i of 
'- - out With. Seafol!^ hat^ e^^'rel^ ^d^^^Tue^,! 
J59 




ALTON OF, SOMASCO 



1 '" 


1 ':H^'* 



;.::!l 



tions were asked until they had eaten. Then Alton, stretch- 
ing himself at full length beside the fire, lighted his pipe. 

" You found nothing after I left you where the trail split 
up? " he said. 

" No," said Okanagan. " Anyway, not for more than a 
mile. Ran into rock and gravel, and lost the trail. Crawled 
round in ring . lost of the day, and couldn't strike it apin. 
Guess the bci't swam the river and lit out for home." 

" Well," ■■:i:i Alton dryly, " I found more than that, for I 
ran into a ;i an's trail, and it wasn't very old. I think he 
had long boots on and one was down at the heel. I spent 
an hour over it, and when it led me into rock came back 
again." 

" A man ? " said Seaforth. " I fancied there was nobody 
but our.<!elves between here and Somasco. What could he 
be doing? " 

" I don't know," said Alton. " Did you find the panther s 
trail?" 

" No," said Seaforth. " Rock again ! " 
Alton said nothing for a minute, and when he spoke his 
voice had a curious tone. " Well," he said gravely, " the 
rock belongs to this place and we don't, so there's no use 
kicking, but it would have been convenient if there had 
been less of it. Now it's quite possible that a few pounds of 
grub and a load of blankets may make a big diflferctire 
before we get home again, and if we can't trail thst hc.rse 
to-morrow you'll go back to Somasco for another one. 
We'll cache the load somewhere here and make a big smoke 
for you at every camping." 

" That means the loss of a fortnight, anyway," said Sea- 
forth. " Time is valuable with the winter coming on." 
Alton nodded. " Still, it can't be helped," he said. 
" I'll lose no time," said Seaforth, who had been watch- 
ing his comrade. " Are you quite sure you have told us 
all, Harry?" , 

Alton slowly drew a strip of hide from beneath him, and 
passed it across. Seaforth and Okanagan bent over it 
together, their faces showing intent in the light of the fire, 
while Alton laughed softly as he watched them. 
" What do you make of that? " he said. 

i6o 



ON THE TRAIL 



1 found one " «;,i i;.,) _.? .**' S^''""- 
^;' Yes," said^AC' d v^'"'-;/"""^C-ar•s." 
another, and a horse that h;.,i, u"" '''""'<! have been 
»he^R..StilUdon-ttWn?h"t2lt ••'''" ""'' P"" -" 

^To^^r5lfn:£:i'^i;„'::,-^is'hro.en." 
^e?^"3ii;:£S^^ta;^:i:^'°-~-^^ 

of the great fi^J^J o"^':.: ^^^V^' '"^ "^="'"- 
•^ done to-morrow." "• ^'"^''^ s a good deal to 



«$i 



iii 



!ii 



i! 



I 



,a, 



CHAPTER XVI 

CAUSE FOR ANXIETY 

There was no sign of the missing horse next day, and 
Alton's face was grave when he returned to camp at 
^c^n Tom of OkLagan arrived an hour or two later, 
and shook his head when Seaforth glanced at him m- 

''"••"R^k acain. Right down to the river," he said. 

AU^ mxklc-1. but did not ask if his companion had 
effected a crossing. " There was a good deal of water com- 

'"?-oTves'.-':aidOkanagan. " It was cold. Boulders all 
along on *; other side. Now if the beast got over he 1 be 
Hghting out for home, and there are some of us better th.m 

"•^f^Jt^Ss^d Sand the impHcatioj. pleased hi,. 
though It was not openly expressed. Had you a > 
espedal reason when you asked me to go, Harry? Ik 

^' Alton smiled dryly. " I had. but I don't know that it was 
a very good one. You would sooner stay up here. Wlut 

''°"-rf *!urseT""'said Seaforth, and Alton nodded silently, 
while Okaniih'an rose to his feet. , .. 

"Not, vou have asked me, Charley's nght." he said. 1 H 
be moving south in ten minutes." 

He had set off in somewhat less, and the men he Ictt 
be"nd stood stm listening until the sound of his footste,« 
had sunk into the stillness. Then Seaforth glanced at Im 
comrade, and Alton laughed. 

•• It's lonely. Charley." he said. I don t know that vn 
were wise but we'll get a move on and cache some of tl.oe 
provisions. " 

1U2 



CAUSE FOR ANXIETY 

a slight sense of depresSsh.^^ ^°"'' ^''"'^ ^e felt 
wilderness of rocl<Td s„ow thefr m?. ."T"' '"^''"^' 'he 
not. however, tell his comrrdo ! ^^'i^ I"''' ""°- "«= <Jid 
hour before Alton care unvsm^rh"'' ""'^ 'f"^ ^"^ =>" 
cov^ed what the. had ^ers^lt ''^thle^ 

wiX^'i;°^kk^:e?[he'sS '''7\^''^' "> 'he rock. 

Seaforthwklked straight fnr ^^^ ° • 'J"= hi"." he said. 
"A foot over! " he sa'd '' '""' '"'^'""d strides. 

Alton nodded. " Go back anH .^-i. 
-^..."Fort. north "^■^tr^.^^jr.LrTli' t 

" We7r '?'<'A^r^°'*' " •'"<■ ^ half." 
tight on 'to that "• ■ *'''"=^" >°" ''°"'' remember, hold 

hi':=^'"te!^e^fe!"ti:rs,o':i''".'.f ^'^7.°'^ -"- t° 
forget." ' ^ ^^"' *'°«''y' few things that you 

ey^s'r;afci^li-',r-;-;|-nd then turned his 
that can't look forward «,h^„7, I'"'-, '' ■'' 'he man 
-thing might st^p^letm^bLI^ w^tVyl^u f;^^^ 

'xTse. and in extra oad ,mn ' h ^"'''" T 'h"^ --emaining 
many things mfght happen up therein";;" ^'\'- ■ ^ *^°°^ 
snow-slides, floods and frost or hJt ^^ "l^^'h- '"chiding 
fees in a iruAV Thn/ °!J 'he downward rush of great 

;i"!f i-Rh-ng song'^fthTS'hal,r''-l'^'= l°'"'"<^""d » 
trail again, but thp wl,;f» j "' ^^hen thev took the 

^ilencedhi^. or hsbr«th%a^;^"^r' "! ""= ^^^^' P«k' 
em-choked fores S walfurth'/r "^'^ ?°""dered into 
l">rnble devil's club Wnrtlf f n^ • (^""'^hed with the 
and for several minutes Wc. '^" '"'° = <^'""'P of it, 
• ough he had C tauJr™nM-:r' 7"^°"'' f^ 
'-'her tuition in Canadf ofT^rlmmTr Sgio? £ 
163 



MICROCOPY RESCHUTION TEST CHART 

(ANSI and ISO TEST CHART No. 2| 




m iiu 11 



I^W^I^ 



^ / APPLIED IM^GE Inc 

^S'A '6S3 Eos) Main Street 

S*.S Rochester. New York 1*609 USA 

".^ (716) 482 - 0300 - Phone 

S^g (716) 288 - 5989 - Fo» 



■•'r 



il 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

can be expected from the man who is gripped by that 

^Twafhalf an hour before he went on again with his 
crarm^nts ensangi>ined as the result of Alton s treatment 
She knife ami he gasped with relief vvhen after a march 
of four miles, which occupied most of what was lef of Ae 
dav they came out into the more open spaces of a big 
MUc sLc time in the hot autumn a fire had passe, 
tha way.and the great trees towered above them, stripped 
and blackened columns, that seemed to stretch between earth 
and sky There was no limb left them, and they rose 
majestic in their cylindrical symmetry, in apparent y endless 
Eions a vista of plutonic desolation. Underfoot there 
was charcoal! and featherv ashes that whirled a oft. an, 
TprinkUng the men with afine grey powder slowly settled 

"^AUon was white in ten minutes, a gritty riiire defiled the 
hofse's sides, and Seaforth fl°"ndered,coughmg ankle-deep 
at times wi h livid circles where he had rubbed the grime 
awaTabo"' his eves. There was no sign of beast or bird 
and Ae shuffle of" weary feet and thud of hoofs rose muffle 
out of a ereat silence, until there was a stupendous crash 
somewhere in the distance. The charred trunks took up 
fSr .nnnd and while they flung it from one to another 
Alton sprang forward and' smot'e the pack-horse w.th his 

fist. 

" Tump ! " he said hoarsely. j „„j 

Next moment Seaforth felt himself hurled for^Yard, and 
riancfngovTr his shoulder when he found his footing again 
Sw a big trunk tilt a little. It seemed to hang qu.vermR 
fo^a second or two, then toppled further, and with a great 
hummTng came rushing down^ Then there was a stunn, 
rraih and he stood gasping, deafened, and berett ot si^ni. 
amidst a stifling cloud of dust which swept into his moi. h 
TdnostrHlfd almost sufltocated him.. When he couW 
see anything again the horse was quivering and the dit 
stm rising from a shapeless pile a few yards behind hm. 
Alton, who was black and grey to the ankles, took 'n. bat 
off shook it, and put it on again in a curious unconcerned 
?ashion which suggested that he did it unconsciously. 
164 



CAUSE FOR ANXIETl- 

generally fo lovv Tf ""^f", .)^,''*" °"« g°«- more of then, 
Tyee very much ilZT^Vu^^^ grieved Hallam of the 
back." ^ "^^ ''^'^ '^«^" a yard or two farther 

he'SrnoroSKe'Lt'^-"! '°^ "^.^ ^"^-^^ ^ 
have displeased anybody else," h" said '^"' '^ " ^°"''* 

-yfeS^^^^^l^^.S-'-'^'oo.edathin,. 

Kinsman of mine " '"rgei agam. ihe man is a 

knovTSt Ta'ns^ll^r ''tetaTva^r " '^ •'^''' "°^ ""''^ 
ing Derineham hnt «„. v ^"^ suspicions concem- 

apUriTtf D ht TolCsThem "aIso T" '•' ^^^ '"" 
a ittle of the smoother sid^o UiT^n E^lndZ^''''' 

to him.^ He Il'o fancied tC'V"' 'AP'?''"-" ^'PPa''^"* 
We fonnd some" cff ^m '£,^;f; ^STo^^-^ 

waf s: med'wt"lh"e'^b""a*?I.f'^"^'' '"' ^"^ '^^ '-f-^ 

clouds rolledTower down Vh. "^ '"V-"' "■'"^'- Sombre 

forth was elad to L.?T 1 ■ ^"'"'""""f'lncr hills, and Sea- 

^n was glad to stretch his weary limbs under the lee of 

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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

a big boulder while the fire snapped and crackled in front 
of him. , 

' " I wonder when we shall sec this lake again, he said. 

Alton, who was busy with the frypan, turned and stirred 
the fire, and the sparks and smoke whirled about them 
before a stinging blast. " I don't know," he said, glancing 
at a smear of whiteness that swept athwart the lake. " It 
depends upon the weather, and I'm not pleased with that 
to-night. You see the Chinook winds would keep off the 
snow." 

"Of course," said Seatorth, who knew that the warm 
breezes from the Pacific occasionally drive back the rigor- 
ous wint"r that turns the northern portion of the mountam 
province ir.to a white desolation. "They usually do, but 
we'll surmise that in place of them we get the back-draughts 
from the Pole ? " . , • 

" Then," said Alton dryly, " it would be a good deal nicer 
down at Somasco. Are vou sorry you didn't stop there, 
Charley?" , , ., 

Seaforth threw an armful of fir wood upon the fire with 
somewhat unnecessary violence. " You are not so pleasant 
as you might be to-night," he said. 

Alton rose and stretched himself. " I wouldn t worry 
about me. It seems to me we are both of us feeling lonely, 
and that's curious, because when we had him Okanagan 
wasn't any special kind of a companionable wxn. There 
was a time when you would have been driving to dinner 
with a diamond pin stuck in you and silk stockings on about 
this time, Charley ? " 

Seaforth laughed. " I scarcely think either of the things 
are in common masculine use," he said. " There, however, 
was a time when I walked into a British Columbian minins 
camp with my whole wardrobe on my back and, I think. 
fifty cents in my pocket. Still, what you ask me suggests 
a not quite unwarranted question. What are you going to 
do with Carnaby, Harry?" 

" I don't know yet. I'm not sure it's mine, you see. 
"Your grandfather left it you," said Seaforth; "and it 
was his." , , , , 

" Yes," said Alton gravely. " He did, but he tacked a 

i66 



CAUSE FOR ANXIETY 

t'in'you^Sy" °" '° ''■ ^"''— ". *afs about all I can 

not havrasked";o"u' ^nff ar"'" ^"™"^'>- " ^ -"'^ 
you're Alton of Car'naby vou wnH'' P^"""' «"<1 ^^en 
^^ „ v-arnaoy you will have no more use for 

Alton seemed to <!iD-Ii " r •• i 
of Somasco, and ? flty no v a'l^k th' 1^ "'"P'>' " ^^"°" 
meant to be. You are Vnv I T r^ '"^^^ "'^^ all I was 

take a good deal more San^r?""k ^''"''=>' ^"'' '' ^^ould 
^^., 8 ai more than Carnaby to separate you and 

amSmem ir'his' f:f:'"wh'!'°"f i' '"""^ ^'^ --« than 
the fire and filled two eanfnmri^^;° ^'°PP^d beside 
reproachfully as he flunt thl;? ^ ''"'.'"• '''"""^ •"'« head 

" That's what come, of flit' ™"'^"'' '"'^ *e bush, 
gotten to put t Zt:-' hf "f/°° '""^''- You have for- 

acrorthl:^r the^wlndllt ??'f1^'^' -'" "- tent 
it advisable not to ere^ ft bu f'"'^ *^ '^''^ '"^"''ered 
Seaforth went to sleep He fancied r/ 'T' '""" ''^^"^^ 
assertion that he was not sur^ r ''^. ""'^^■•^t.^ Alton's 
knew his comrade was canable nn f™''^ ^^' ' ' fo"" he 
almost reasonless g^nerosftv n"^';;.';*^^"", ~"^itions of 
partner, but he wis not sure frZ ^ .u" ''""■= ^ "^^tter 

Km. There was also a 'cSs'"rf ''" ^'^ '!"' "^^^"^ "P"" 
and he glanced about him vhh aZlf ^^ *%=*t"^-Phere. 
t'on. . The hillside gleamed coldIv^L^?-°^ consterna- 
"eeping light, and only rte n^!^ "" ^"l ""^'<^'- the 
earth was white with snow '°'"'"'^' ^°'' '^e 

'"at'Si^'i^^^^ad: ::i;!ie^f ^""^^^'"^ ■" i^- -- 

^^^^r'^%0^ t'^^ ^ '";«^ ^■--- " This," 
''reaWast%uic'kas"yorcfn*° tT""P "'"^^- ^^'" ^ave 
They were on their way in half an hour, struggling up 
167 



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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

re"nkreTwith gUt'tering particles. J^e -^^^S:' 
towards sundown, and when, climbing a g^^t Inll shouUler 

*" Seaforth shivered a little. " He had the specimens with 
^^"iV AA.A " Vps '■ he said " He had rls g.ip right 

WMmmM 

*"lelfortVgilnced down into the great hollow that fell 
away beneath them, and up at the glittering snow. Yoi. 

-^.^rwat-'said'Ahon grimly. J And -o^t ha»-froz^n 
It was rtiai cold there was ice in the big rapid, and I hadn t 
'ieXV^hfvlred^gaZt'hrpictured that strange en- 

silver is valueless, had sat within a few P^^^ fj""' J^^^'^, 

i68 



Ill'; .:l: 



CAUSE FOR ANXIETY 

Sra'd^^fi:/^^^^^^^^ a.so picture his 

resolute movements for when ft- ^^'?' ''"' ■'"•"'''• 

Alton of Wj^as'nof t;"e ^7^ ZlrT^^J^ ^<= ^°- 

was Mrs. Jimmy working down ll .^ ". ' "'"■ S""' 'here 
belonged to her '- ^ ''°"^" ^' 'he store, and that secret 

off"a pS tZi'y T;!!1 ]T,'T'' '' °^ °- shaking 
ing pines to theTk^'in thi ^ n'' ^°^T. across the climb- 
shone steelilya^dapparentV no °'' 'ehindthem. It still 
had cost the men stre~ ton inT^ ^^' ^^^^^ '^Qugh it 
tance that divided them from it tVlu^'T' ^' '^''- 
him, noticed somethnp-,,nM^,?,t-" ,?eafo.rth, who watched 
rade stood very sti " wM, .vA";,,'"/ ^"""''<^' ^°' his com- 
wavered from o'ne^'J^inTin Z'X' """ '°' ' "'°"'^"* 
" v«^°" ?ee anything down there?" he said 
Yes, sa,d Alton grimly. " I see smoke " 

"I d^amptd'lTn'Z rark"win^'"H ""f:^^'" ^eafortH. 
shut off the draught. There was rhr^^'f "^. *" ^°" '" 
twigs, Harry." ^^^ ^ hig pile of wet green 

^Yes " "^I'm ^'"TII^- " ^°" "'^'de one f5re ' " 
makr::;o.""' ^"'°"''' """'Bering. " We don't usually 

see^^s^Sj oTlluf vTour^c^u^ratr "t-^V' '^' he could 
had banked the fire wTwet full ,fr/-' t'""' ^"^ he 
all day in case Tom of Ok,^o ' u °j*hat it should smoke 

and was foHowingVefr^^air^" '''^ °^'^*''^^" *he horse 

moment he caueht sitrht nf , ?^ ?' ^"" 'hen for a 

their sombrenesf I was 1 V°"fi1 ^="1!* ^'^^^"^ athwart 
rose again, muso^v and^Imn t • ' *^'" 'i^' ^^"'^hed and 
reason it iroubTed\Tm '' ""Perceptible, but for some 

'It might be Tom," he said. 

Alton laughed in a curious fashion. " I don't think it is. 
169 



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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

One fire would be enough for Tom to make his supper with, 
and that one's nearer us." «™„tp " 

" But." said Scaforth, " I can scarcely ^ee the smoke. 

AUon raised one hand impatiently. No he ^^^ 
"Whoever made that fire didnt want you to, and there s 
no need to make much smoke if you keep clear of sap and 

*^SMfnrth's face erew grave. " Is there any reason why 
you\tfteVml a^Me'more? If the man would sooner 
we did not see it, what did he make the fire for^ 

Alton smiled grimly. "J don't know ='".y ™«'^"\^ 
man must eat." he said. "In the me^n^ll'le rt seems to 
me that fellow understands his business, and I ve a kind ot 
notion we shall hear from him or see him P'-«e"t y- 

Seaforth glanced back along the blue-gre> trail that led 
towards the bare hill shoulder, which rose a mere ridge of 
Ae grit mountain side that swept round the hollow 

" There is no controverting that, and he neean t hav 
much difficulty in finding us if he wants to. Is there am- 

^^^^fl^'L'dTho^dr";.'-" If there was. I'd sit down here 
and wait for him, but there's nothing to stop a free m;ner 
prospecting round where it suits him m this country. 



r ' t 



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CHAPTER XVII 

ALONE 

!pfter as they floundered we.rr"^ °" "^^ t^rd it gre " 
Seaforth was aching in eveTv I S, T" '"'° ^ valleyfand 
at the edge of a river Not Tar L,'" ^'u'"^* "^ey halted 
frothing into a gloomy cafion 1^^^^°'' "'^'" " P'unged 
came out of the thin white "^ vT*" "^ ■"'' '"rmoH 
the stupendous portals ofMriL" J''"''' ^"'"'^^ trough 
felt moist and generallv .m ^''^*?'"-worn stone. Seaforth 
for it was hum,^ and"^r^fl °'^^°''"*''^' ^= ^^" as wea? 
boots were soaKed. and at every s't^n". "T' ^'^"^ ^is loS 
acloggmg weight of snow. HHeanL'"^ dragged after hi,? 
to rest a while, and elanced ^ • • 1 ^^'"=' a cedar, glad 
.Alton, howeWr, showed n.^"'""^i>' ^' ^is comrade 

wuh the half-melted Tow he°ha!"fal e ''■"■^f- ."«^'°°d 
nis deerskm iacket anH t,-:„i i- .^"^" '" chn^ ne abnnt 

'egpngs, the VTdle ofthe'wo^^ou^h'^ ''^"". ^'= ^^"-"d 
a slight perplexity in his ey^s " ^°"^ '" ^'' hand and 

'•^^f^'^S-^X^fl^S^-d to the south... 

" Well " *'"•" P"'-P°'e... "°^ " -^""^ to the north would 

and there would^ma"ke"a ^Z/''"^' "^ ^'^"' P^^vder here 
f- ^ea, With a few^^.^l?-' ^^ -rpl^.ta 

'a- to^a°;'ttt"'" '''' ^^^^-"'. "'ake a good many dol- 

171 



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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

"'^'Therare- he said, "dollars enough to build a road 
righTdown'Io' Vancouver in those hills, _and by and by one 
of two men will have his hands on . ;em. „ 

" Isn't that a somewhat curious way of puttmg it . 

''■ " wT"s°aia Alton, " there is as usual . reason. Which- 

craft They made fast the pacK norsc uy a „. 

^^ -tti'r^^^^^^^^^^ fe^grnrtoorure pS 
somewhat to beaiorin ^ '"^b'^V. , y„,:„,<,iv as he elanccd 

mist. 

172 



ALONE 

come'^diwn'S ^ZTl Tnn ^'"'V''' '«' -"=«" to 
about," he said. "There wouM . "'^^'J' ^^^ 'hinkinB 
alonp the bank, and Jimmy waVm^^rv '^? ^",'" ^""^c 
he woddrj-t get through and t^^ ■ ^''^''^'^ "^^ '<"^«' 
woman he held on so tJ^it^" °"'^ '^"^•^'« "^ 'he 

clenched in stiffened Ssh.f^'^^T", ^'"' "'c paddle 
by him, knowing that on hefr ^r'n'^i" "'°'" '"="' '"^e 
faih-ng chance of He He had Wn^t"?'''^'.' ^'' ^^''■ 
at the crawling boulde.s wfth dLfir n V ^^"""•'' '"^'"^ 
and the weary man tiim^^*^'^ ,-"''""•"'"& eyes, 
savagely. ^ ™" *""'*^'' ^"^^"^^ h>s comrade almost 

he'S"'' '°" *'"■"'' °^ '"'>^'""S » ■'■«>e more pleasant'" 

andf'r tr^ji'^l fhe^TrLt^'elLrrlefd ^" °^ ".' "^ ''^^- 
unknown h-nting r-^ uZ.'' he sa d " wf h°^*'" '^ **"= 
keep faith with Ji„ ,v He did h. \».» *^ j^ t"^ *?°' to 
knew I would co'me up here a ^ h";^' ''' '"'' ^ ^'""^ ^^ 

Seaforth said nothing further bV,h.nf 
until an hour later they landed on , ^'}\°''^'; h>s paddle, 

tent Neither was coJnmumcative oveT h'."'^ '"' "P "«= 
Seaforth went early to sleen Thf i f .u- ^ supper, and 
Alton sitting, a black motion!. J fi ^'' *'""^ ^e saw was 

into the darkness from thTdoo ofluJ ^T'^'^'ly ^'«""g 
towards the north °^ "'^ '^"t- ^ith his face 

tent ::! sl"&:S AreTKh^^'^^'^r'"^- ^he 
;pent in unremitting toil Thl ^fri^ ' ^""^ *''^' ^^^^ ^as 
'hem, and Seafoth^s wet harM^ "" S" '''°"8 =^^i"«t 
Rrasp of the paddie and^hi, k„» ^^"^r '''"'^'"^'^ f"-""! the 
craft's bottom as he swnri •^^^',""' ^'""^ the rasp of the 
hour the railTbeat on rteS 'a k, ^! ^^="-y ^^e. 4ur by 
"f it went very slo°^y bT'wh I ;t P'"^%that crawled out 
stand upright now and then TnH lu"^^ ^'"""'t a relief to 

Wore *; p.... latKSn!3 ,Xr.*S 
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ALTON OF, SOMASCO 

and panting, for minutes to regain what they had lost in as 
many seconds. 

Now and then it was also needful to drag the canoe out. 
flounder amidst boulders or through tangled forest with 
her contents, and then, hewing a path here and there with 
the axe, painfully drag her round ; but portage after portage 
was left behind, and they were still fighting their way yard 
by yard upstream while the rain came down, beaforth 
also knew that it often rains for several weeks in that coun- 
try when the Chinook wind that melts the snow sets in. 

Darkness was closing down when at last they drew the 
canoe out upon a shelving bank and dragged themselves 
ashore. Seaforth was too chilled and wet to sleep, and his 
eyes had scarcely closed when Alton shook him, and he 
rose up, shivering, and stif! in every joint, to commence 
the task again. It was fortunately easier that day for the 
river spread out into a narrow winding lake, and there was 
less current against them. Still the rain did not abate, and 
the afternoon was not quite spent when Alton pointed to a 

' "Ve^ haven't made much to-day, but unless you're 
anxious to go on that would make a good campmg-place, 
he said deprecatingly. " Now there was a time when 1 
wouldn't have thought of stopping yet, but I guess too 
much good living has taken a little of the stiffening out 

Seaforth slowly unclenched one hand from the red- 
smeared paddle-haft, and glanced at it. 
diffident, don't worry about me," he said, 
hard labour while you're wet through is, 
quite enough for anybody." . „ , , , , ,.... 

Alton ran the canoe in, and Seaforth staggered a little 
when he walk".d asnore. The water was draining from 
him and it was several minutes before he could straighten 
himself There were pools amidst the boulders, and when 
they had splashed through these to the edge of the forest, 
fallen needles and withered fern were spongy, while the 
dark branches shook down w?ter on them as they swung 
to the chilly blast. Seaforth groaned now and then as he 
stniggled with the tent, while Alton tramped into the 

174 



" If you feel 
" Eight hours' 
in my opinion. 



• ^ 



ALONE 

trifle when a cracklinS';e'fl"unJ' jr/ed^Hl^w '!"'' T' "^ 
creeping shadows. It hissed f,.L ""^V 'trough the 
'he rain, but the blarWp. » i f j- ^ ^'" '=*cd it with 
while they ate' and'd anklhe'lote'tb ' """i *"""="• ^^ 

finished, but Akon In" fresh >„^f°"-« 'h^ "^eal was 

the blaze that whirled ahfft rent [Zvl °V^' ^''' ""'» 
the rain, and called un ml ? " "^^ °^ ""adiance through 

trunks. 'Then he stretched Mm?eir"r^ °^ "'^ '^"'"'""ar 
dripping twigs, and his gl™ ntf te°amer;^ "? ^™^'" "^ 
I'ghted an old blackened Dioe W tl, .''^"' '""' ^' ^e 
packages, feeling blissfull/ Srowsy a^lhe '' '""^'' '^'^ 
slowly into his aching limbs cZllh^ Jl^ ™"' "«Pt 
wailed i-, wild harmonies and thifu^"^ *.^ '^ •'""^hes 
beat upon the tent ' '^ '''°*'" '^ey shook down 

said Ahrpre^emy'" '"''"''' '"'^''* ^ave begun better." 

mTJrt "t'gfn^"'!t7or:-^- " '' -"''^ ^ ^ '■■«<« 

Wouldn't it havT^en wisT "Z ^7 ""^.^ *°"«=- 
longer. Harry?" ' ^°" ''^^ waited a little 

Charley," he said """ ''^^^ «° '="< straighter. 

me^rd/" mLfthaflnnt^""' ■"■ "^"^ <^>"=''' '-"^hed. "I 
trifle i;arm'er then IV^"i;Ld7o"lf' ^?^'' ^°"''^ "^^ > 
•"-night, but, of course iHsno^*°l^ a little cantankerous 
stayed at the ranch " "^ ''""""^ how long you 

-ouK;e'i?eentV''^r'? '""V"* 't - Spring 
-; Did anyfh,';g"Xe s^Tou'^hS??"^'^' ^^^^^'"^ 

*ning' in st^te inTh "bij'd^at'v "'"^" '^ ^'"""^^y 
classes, good win? .vh* j ** Vancouver. Jinfflinp 

onthetair-^^rcontealMr'' ''"^^" ^"^ •'''"- 
•-uutrdsi s a little exasperating." 

175 



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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

Alton glanced at the saturated canvas and his s^ea™"? 
clothes, while Seaforth. for no apparent reason, stretched 
out one foot and kicked over the d''}*^'! kettle 

"Ther- are folks who would think thats only fit, he 
said " Mr. Hallam is one of the men who are building up 
?he future greatness of this wonderful country. At east, 
hat's what^they called him at the last b>g^P«ch-ma<mg 
but I don't quite see what good it would do us if you 
kicked the bottom of that kettle m, Charley. Now Us 
curious how a thing that', once started gofs °"- . J™^^ 
took a notion that there was silver here, and tl^^t dr«w me 
in as well as Mrs. Jimmy. Then you came along, and 
presentTy it got hold of Hallam. The Somasco Consoli- 
dated has got^drawn in, too-now there are you and I with 
only the Almighty knows how much upon our shoulders, 
UD here in the rain and snow." „ . , i. .:j 

Seaforth glanced at his comrade reP ct.vely as he said, 
" I was wondering if there was anybody else. ^^ „ 

Alton's face grew suddenly impassive. Oh, yes, ne 
said "There's another man I don't know, the one who 
lighied the fire. He's back there somewhere . 

Seaforth said nothing for a minute o^ tw°' "^"^ '/^^ 
danced about him the shadows seemed to grow darker 
beyond the flickering radiance of the fire, and the roar of 
wind in the branched angrier. He had been a prey to half- 
formed suspicions of latl and there was somethmg sinister 

''^^:lX^r::t''f^^^ -^ of the 

*'^f e^s^dltn ^y. "It wasn't always easy and 
they didn't come to me, but I knew what I wanted, and I 

"Teafonh mide a sign of comprehension. " Did it ever 
occur to yo^that you had probably as much already as is 

^"uon^Tanced at him with half-closed eyes. "A little 

P'-'YouSl'avt Somasco, the liking of all the ranchers do.. 

the va°"ey, the timber rights and mill. You have also Car- 

naby, and most folks would think you a fortunate man. 

176 



ALONE 

S ht'gSfit"''" "''"'^ '°° """^h is occasionally sorry 

W whe«?o^stop'" he'said^''" ^ ''^'*""'' '°°' ^f"" ''°«n't 

said'reKivdy "LTood'f ^^ 1^^^"^' " Th--" he 
a better one Tor the^an w^r.^"^- /" **'* ^ ^°"'t ^now 
meant to in the wfnd .n7 "^^"^^ '° "^« ^s he was 
worked for"s,owly"^^w'"'ls"lt"'a mlL^'^H^- "''^i "^ »>-' 
see the oats and timothy whe e the or«/T A"'^' '° 
clear a new way for thp Wv.J -.i • "^^'^ ''^'^ ''een, to 

the big wheels il^'^.i'yXrrtfe'w/"^^^' 'P" '''" 
rapid? Orcharrls l„^„ i ■ "^^ ^^^ ""'y a frothing 

>a£.ur. ho'serandterds'of caTl^'T,'' ''""' ^^ y°- »- 
and by the railroad com.L mf I ^" Z"""" "W"- and by 
drean,ed of prosStritf ^X W^"'°" "^^ '°"^ 

?un is creepinfatove hefirs LdT'' '° ."'" ^''^" *e 
ice-cold pool. Better still to L I""^^ ^""'n '"*« an 
body, tranquil M mTnd whl ti, " *^ verandah, tired in 
your workl done knowin^tLf" snows are fading and 
new Plongh-furrow dr°vTnL, K ^"^"^ "'"'^^""^ ^ewn and 
prosperit/of th™ pSe and th". n """'^ ^^'^''^ *" 'he 
" No^*-^ one J^^^Zl ^"e n '^'^Hrry " '' ''"'' ' 
very^h°;nS;^ ,^^. '°^'^- " T"- - 'Ss when I'm a 

men'^Sin'S 'iing" f use";' -^"l J "^^.f -- -ry tired 
them, fhey had holev^r ke^.m f.'""" *"' ^'^"^^ned 
the manhood the; we^e once o?oud^f ' ^"" 'i '° '°"^ *at 
There are a good many of fh^- u"'^' ""'^ ^ memory. 
»me of them have Seed .II Th'".^^ ?'^ '°""*^y' ^"d 
t.hat wasn't good for them I ^ . "^ *' """^ '^ing 
lound it out, Harry •■ ^* "^^^ *°° '^'e when they 

'f ~ I fllC^^h^le;^.^ ^°""' '" "^ -•^' "''e a pity 
Seaforth laughed in a curious fashion. " It would, but I 
177 



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f-iH.I'M: 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

scarcely think we shall. You and I are partners, _ and a 
little more and I will keep silent now I have spoken. 

Alton s^id nothing, but sat smoking and starmg at the 
fire until Seaforth rolled himself in his damp blankets and 
sanic Tnto not altogether refreshing sleep. A "'^ty "'fht 
w^s creeping into the tent when he was awakened by he 
rhudding ^ his companion's axe, and rising stiffly with ttie 
ache at fheWp-Joint which every bushman knows, went out 

''•'Se! " said Alton. " I left it in the deerhide bag in 

^Seafortii's limbs were too stiff to be much use to him 
vet ind he blundered amidst the boulders falhng over 
Ine o" two before he reached the shingle where they had 
partly dVawn out the canoe. Then he stood still staring 
aW him and saw only the green-tinted water sliding b> 
S thT'uTcertain light, and the pines on the other sid 
growing a trifle plainer through the mist, iuj" n^, ne 
Kned along the^hingle until ^^.Ijf ° .^.'^^X 1-' 
and then back to the tent agam. Alton laid down the axe 
for there was something in his comrade s face that troumen 
him. .,,11. 1, J 

:: ^:7s^aM leaf^rth v'rytutetly. " You told me the bag 
was in the canoe." , . ^Vi»rp?" 

mswm 

that accounts for it. ne saia.^ 

""?. SttTuUed the^Xle of her clear," said Seaforth 
""aL stood silent for almost a minute with his right 
178 



ALONE 

you can carry, and a rifle T'll lr,=,i ^' "^ ^^'O- Take all 
and we'll cache the rest vi, if ^ ^' '""?'' ^' ^'"1 «' f"-"- 
Tom, as you think best " ™"'' °" ^'^''^ '"^' °^ J°i" 

Seaforth smiled a little " I'll ^,^^^ 
sacrifice something else III take the "rfle"' '"' ''*" " ^ 

the amV"The°n'^:^h:v"tt'°7" ''°"'" ^"^'^ ^"^ ''-^ about 
;; Harry, are you wise? " he said. 



w 



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CHAPTER XVIII 

IN THE WILDERNESS 

Dusk was closing down on the valley, and the rain had 
ceased, when Alton unstrapped his load, and stood with 
achine shoulders amidst the dripping pines He could hear 
the rittle of the twigs that met and brushed through the 
shrill wailing of the wind about the sombre spires that 
pierced the growing darkness far above him, and the har- 
monic munnuring that rose and fell in cadence along the 
dim, vaulted roof. There was, however, nothing else be- 
yond the growl of a rapid somewhere up the valley, ami 
stretching out his arms wearily, he stooped with a little 
smile that was grim rather than mirthful and caught up 

the sxc 

Now 'one can usually hear the thudding of the axe a 
mile or more in the stillness of the woods that is not silence 
to the bushman's ear. Their voice is always musical, aii( 
the sounds that man makes jar through its harmonies, bu 
only a forest rancher or free prospector would have caught 
the muffled sound, that was lost in the song of the pines 
a few score yards from Alton's camp. He knew where to 
find the resinous knots with their sticky exudations, and 
was a master of the axe, while it was noticeable that vvlien 
the fire commenced to crackle he stood still and listened 
again before he went down to the river with the kettle 
Nor did he at once return into the light, but slipped tor 
a moment behind a wide-girthed trunk. It was only a (leer 
he heard moving along the hillside above him, and there 
v IS nothing visible but the row of stupendous columns that 
appeared and vanished as the red light rose and saiiK. 
Alton set the kettle down amidst the flame, and unrolling 
one of the packages laid out his supper. 

It was prepared and eaten in twenty mmutes, and re- 
l8o 



IN THE WILDERNESS 

b!twfi''f^''*"'^ ^°' breakfast he lay smoking in a hollow 
between the great roots which crawled away from a ceda^ 
trunk. Nothmg moved in the bush now but a bear thai 
was grubbmg amidst the wild cabbage in a swamp and 
lolh'^'^ .7". stretching out his hand instinct veiy"o 

o thoueht" He hld'^l ^'"^'".'''^ ^^^*' g^^^ himselLp 
to tnought. He had also much to occupy him, and beine^ 

queS tLT'H"^''''.Pf"°" "^ P^°"^''d to consider hf 
questions that demanded an answer in what aooeared tn 
hjm the.r order of importance. It was characterisdc hit 
of thrsnUr^t."^"'^ '^ ""^"^ ''' P-''^«« -herlai* 

In'frnn^rff^^*^'^"^^'^"'^.* =» somewhat difficult problem 
In front of him lay the wilderness, a trackless chaosof 
forest and rock and snow wher.^n he had to find ^,e scar 
shovel Vh.'"'' °^ ^1^'"' P°^^^^ °^ '^^ scratching of the 
and Altn?.™,.H'!i''?°'^'^^'' P°'"'^ *° ^"*de the searcher! 
KmnT t? '' ^^'^'"'^ ^ S:ood deal from each of them 

J mmy the prospector had, it was evident, perished of 
hunger and exhaustion, for Alton had traced the la t sta-es 
of his journey backwards through the snow, and the Ir^' 
«ory of human endurance and anguish was pla"nly leglbl^ 
W^f il'T"^ had fallen, there lain still, and then draeeed 

rtSs"a7^rne''r '' '°f ^^'"' """« ^^e unf^n 
luotsteps had borne their own test mony. Also *he bap- nf 

specimens was heavy, and Alton decided rtiat for a man 
nlf road '' T^h^ °f. -haustion the river had fun^'shed"" 

vallev .nH V "'''^. "^^^ therefore somewhere up the 
ie W down 'Ih "' T''' ^'^"" J'" '^^ f°""d it, it wouW 

each'of'wh?.?' J-"'u* k'"" "'^'^^'^ ^y P^'ty misfortunes, 
anrl 1,. ""^''* ''^'^°™« ^ "1°^ serious one hitherto 

buf Altor!,r>.?'°"1: l^'' ""''^^^ ^ due to CO ncHen«; 
'n^HeM^TK^^l hypothesis, proceeded to conside 
generallv In ■ "J"''' ^^'°^7^'^ '''«" '"to two. It was 

the due f^"'" '" ^1™'*=° *''^' ^^ 3"d Jimmy had S 
the clue to a secret that might be valuable, and strange 

i8i 




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ALTON OF, SOMASCO 

prospectors for timber rights and minerals occasionally 
strayed into the valley. Alton knew that most of the bush- 
men and free prospectors had a standard of honour which 
was somewhat higher than that usually lived up to in the 
citits. They were quiet, fearless, free-handed men, the 
antitype of the roystering desperadoes he ha.^ now and 
then seen them depicted as by those who did not know 
them. There were, he, however, knew, among them a 
few who it was probable had their own reasons for vacating 
the great Republic, and these were men of distinctly differ- 
ent calibre. One or more of them, it seemed, might have 
heard of his aspirations and be following him. If so, it 
was evident that he would be in security until he found 
the silver. Then the peril would begin. 

This led to the second issue. Alton was quite aware 
that he had an enemy whom he had got the better of on 
several occasions hitherto. Partly because devious finesse 
is not always superior to shrewd sense and fearless honesty, 
he had as yet held his own against Hallam of the Tyee. 
Both knew that a time of prosperity was approaching for 
Somasco, and had decided more or less correo.ly that it 
would lead to affluence the man who had control of the 
valley; but while Alton had striven with arduous toil to 
bring about this consummation, Hallam of the Tyee \yas 
waiting while those he meant to plunder worked for him. 
It was also plain that ihc re was no room for two leaders 
with divergent aspirations, and the rancher had seen suffi- 
cient of his opponent's dealings to recogniz*; that he would 
not scruple about any measures which promised to rid him 
of a rival. Therefore it became him to be careful, and once 
more his fingers fell upon the rifie. 

Alton had reached the limit of his surmises, and refilling 
his pipe again abandoned himself to mnre pleasant dreams. 
He heard the whistle of the locomotive ringing among the 
pines, and the hum of the great mills that would grind 
out wealth for Somasco. Then while the pungent sni .e 
curled about him visions materialized out of its filmy 
wreaths, and he saw the lake at Carnaby shining amidst 
the woodlands of peaceful England, and the old grey hall 
In place of the sting of the resin he could smell the English 
182 



IN THE WILDERNESS 

alluring shape of a vvo nan Cosl°f h"^ " ^'"= *^'"^"°"'' 
he;- there was a flash of iianTnnl^ • " J'" "'?='"•■'' a''""' 
a tace that lost its patric an s" en t- '" ^'^ '■^.''f °''' hair, 
a setting the glitter of I rh/!i^ "' ' ^""'"'' and for 

atCarnaby. Xn whose eleswere"ir" '" "/•'^ ^'•'^^* l^^" 
out his arms towards the d^rt,7^ "',"«''■'''"'• '"'"'^hed 

?wept the smoke a!"e while great d^'n^'nf'' \'^f\?^ ^"^' 
mg upon him. He was barl nnf ^ °^ 'V^'^'' f'-'" ^P'ash- 
wet and very weary man wi?htl"'' '" "'■'' ^''derness. a 
jacket and the mire SnT V /"j-'"".' '" ^'' deerskin 
he rose stiffly and s7re&g.tSg'','?;;b's"' '^ ^'""^<^ ^ 

com:sS;Ts^';^r=fVrr:?t'1t*:ft''''°"^ "^^i^"- "'- "•- 

Then, having left the tpm K i • ''^ '"" "P- ^e said, 
away from the^fire and rol Id h i"'"' 'f ""'.^''^^ '"^ blankets 
two great fir-roots Zt afforde "^ "V" '^'"' ^''''''" 
shelter. Though he lad s^ewntl, "k '"'='' ^' ^^^" as 
blankets were still clammvbT.? I J ^''""^ '^^ "^'^^^ ^^e 
about him uncompIainlngT/^^nd ,L ,1 '"" '^'^1"'^ ^°^'^' 
his side. Ten minutes passed %t'l """^ "'" "«« ^' 
crackled, the growl of the ran1,l , '^■'■^. snapped and 

the worn-out nian heard neither forT. '" ' '^'^""y- ^"' 
There are many like him J^LT '''^' ^''^''P'"^ ''eavily. 

tered across the ^new land" bv th/T-f'"/ ^'"'^^'"^ ^=at- 
of the Yukon to Mexico bu7th.ir - ''^' ^™'" *« ^"°^ 
not expressed in speech wh^l^ vsions are sacred and 
ical flickers in the steadfast .v/""'^ ""^'^^ '' ^alf iron- 
caricatured by the platfo^ln^^e iaHst'"Th'^^ '^"."'^"' 
scanty, but their handiwork is pla.ntL I """"^^ "" 

virgm forest, bridge flunp- nvlr f ?■,'• ^^egap hewn in the 
rent of the giant nowrW- ^"*mg nver, and the raw 

crude and „^tghtry°^ftfn"Th'.^' "' '""^'^ f""^- ^'^ 
track, and the uglv humm?' '^e creosote-reeking railroad 

"'^ toilers, good w^ages an^f,::;'"'' Y " f «"^ ^^^d for 
ance for the^ nch to^'-ek diverslo; '"'' '" P'"" °! ^ P'^^^" 
niinion won. not for Fnr.1. J7 .u"' ^ ""^ ='"'' ''ich do- 
for humanity. ^ng'and, or the Republic, alone, but 

He started with the sunrise, 



l8j 



the pack-straps galling his 



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I f 1 



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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

shoulders, his feet bleeding in the f "f^'^f„Xck''S 
blankets, flour-bag, and pork upon h.s a,^hmg bjick.^^^ 
frvoan and rifle rattling about him, and for the hrbt nour 
every stride that led hhn farther into the w. derness ^^^s 
made with pain and difficulty. Still, he made U cheerfully, 
fir Alton had long borne the burden that was laid on Adam 
uncornSngly, while his rival, sitting ^y°"d the reach 
of hardship m h s Vancouver office, plotted, and filched the 
?ruUs of others' toil. It was also an apparently unequa 
confltct the, had been drawn into, subtlety P;"ed agams 
sturdiness, the elusive, foining rapier against the bushman s 
axe but there are moments in all struggles when f.iiesse 
Soes not avail, and it is by raw. unreasoning valour a man 
must stand or fall, while at times like thesv. the ponderous 
blade is the equal of the slender streak of stee'. 

It vas two^ays later when Alton, whr ma, have made 
ten miles in the time, noticed something unusual on the 
oppoTile hillside. A snowslide had come down that way, 
and its path was marked by willows and smaller trees 
Alton oF course, knew that the hollow they sprang, fro. 
had been scored'out deep ^X countless tons of d.m an 
snow, and that prospector Jimmy Jj;°"'f. /^^^'/^eJ^t ^ 
nniwd the olace It also seemed to him that there was a 
^fpln the sUghter band of forest which ran straight towards 
fh^ snowlinfup the face of the hill that suggested Ae work 

lrTto::fdfthrrivr^-^^^^ 

'"ThrfloK^mf^o:.n'before Him stained green witli the 
clay that underiies the glac ers, and swolen by .am and 

most is always on the other side. smallest 

The firs behind him were great of girth, »"« ^™ . 
some distance from the bank, and he was weary ; buUoosms 
the straps about him, he dropped his Durdens and 
184 



.1,' 



IN THE WILDERNESS 

with the axe It u,,^ . 
nver with skid. andhZsclunT^lt\^' rolledTt to the 

possessions 'on" ^Yrefte'1 '"'"^'^'^ ^»^^S wi h hi" 

«;as a very old one but rtereT, I°A°^, ^'^- The devfce 

put ms^ ,t in execution, for •' s n.eH^?"^^"=<^hed to th| 

h.Ie using the propelling me .nH^"' ,'° '^^" °"' = h'^Je 

and won a yard with the strem, Ji. " ^e dipped the nole 
-Wly expected happened X^ '^"''' ^"^ 'hen wharhe 

«'.ng-tome." ' '""^- ^^ may mean-most any- 

''l-d tinS? ht FenTo*''™''^'^- -'^ "e could fee. his 

--heexSva^-L^-^-'S^^S 
185 






ALTON OF SOMASCO 

snowslide had rent apart the forest and f o«d out the rc^k 
for him. Here and there he smashed * <faK'"«"^°V'' """) 
the back of the axe. or picked up a discoloured stone of 
unusual gravity and compared it with the pieces he took 
out of a little bag, until at last he stood up stiffly and flung 

'''A'irrou^d''him the forest rose dim and sombre, flinging 
back the roar of the rapid in long pulsations of sound, and 
hs solitude was not lessened by the presence of the wet 
and w^ry man standing so still that his outline was scarceb^ 
perceptible against the iiunks behind him. Save for the 
Hght of triumph in his eyes there was nothing in the whole 
sfene to uplift the fancy. The man's garments were tat- 
tered, the river had not washed the mire from him, and one 
of his boots was gaping, but the discovery he had made was 
?raughV^ith great^ossibilitics for that lonely valley and 
chances in the destinies of many other men. It had lain 
wrapped "n stillness, i sanctuary for the be.sts of the forest 
Countless ages since the world was young, being made ready 
slowlv by frost a''d sun, and now man had come. 

For five long minutes Alton looked into the fu ure, and 
once more the^ragrance of English ^^fs seemed^o stea 
faintlv through the resinous odours of the hrs. inen ne 
S htaself, and glanced again dubiously at the nvcr. 

" And"ow," he slid half aloud, " I'll get supper. It s a 

^'^L'^ose^whoTave sojourned in the bush of that country 
kno:,*on":an sup on^easty pork and green tea a one 
when it is impossible to get anything better, but there a^e 
more appetizing compounds, and when the edge of his ap- 
ne°[te hTd™blunted, Alton stopped with greasy fingers 
in the frypan and a little smile upon his face. 
' '-And'somasco-s mine, and Carnaby-when I ask foj t 
with all that lies beneath me here,' he said and sat ^er^ 
Tt la space with eves that had lost their keenness fixed 
upon thTbu^h He -did not see the big balsam infron o 
l,;m nnr the dusky firs. for t was once more the ^ cture oi 
a woman wi?h red-r d hair standing in ar. English rose 

^^^t'^H'^S' -<i tHe -ile faded, while his 
i86 



■\ 



IN THE WILDERNESS 

trrirvt >!»-•„ ., _ 



face ^ew grim again " in »», 

He ?o" ed aSollll '"^ ^""^ •" ^e said, 
.•"•"■■sing hfs fingeratthe'l'^ "''^'"=^'' «"d a little dril, 
eft hand was sm^^^ed Jith & ^^ "'""' ='"d "hen h ' 
thl\, f" °"<= °f his bundles ri'-^f'^ °"' ^ P'^""': vellow 
the hole squeezed down a !op Jr ' n' ^"""^ cammed into 
ana, lighting the lattpr 1-^J^^ "^^P "P°" a strin of f„c- 

sound, and flung it from onp V .^ h'Hsides took up the 

"^lew, and the forest thZ ZV '^,'"^ '" such a fi^ht he 

•t'^, man wh^o cam 'ffter hi^ '"'' J™'"^ ^vas d , m'e 

"e wilderness against him A^ff,^ ! ' ^^J"^"^ ^ore than 
=''"-. strode back to ^^^^r^J^^f^^J^ 



m 



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ij 






ALTON OF SOMASCO 

a packet of green tea, and a little bag of sugar from a strip 
of hide. The piece of pork was very small, and a good 
deal of it apparently bad. Then he laughed curiously. 

" Tt seems to me that the sooner I can get south and pM 
in record the less hungrjr I'm I'kely, to»^' ^e said. 
" It ould be kind of convenient if I could find a deer, i 
wonder just how far back the other man is? 




m 



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iSS 



CHAPTER XIX 

FOUL PLAv 
^t.TON looked fnr , J 

ri«« them, which ^ould hittT'^ P°"'''''^ that he '^i^lf 

189 B 



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f ? t ' ! 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

rising above the thicket. He did not, however, think it was, 
and gazing more intently fancied he saw a patch of some- 
thing that was not the fern. He knew that at the first 
movement it would be gone, and there was no time for 
any fine alignment of Lhe sights of the rifle, so leanmg 
slightly forward he drew his right foot back, and with eyes 
fixed steadily on the little patch amidst the fern, trusted to 
them and the balance as he flung the long barrel up. Few 
men can use the rifle as the Canadian bush rancher can, 
and there was a flash from the muzzle as the heelplate 
touched his shoulder. Alton bad not glanced along the 
barrel, but the curious thud which he heard in place of the 
explosion told him that the heavy bullet was smashing 
through bone and muscle. Then thin smoke drifted into 
his eyes, and there was a crackling amidst the thicket. 

When he floundered forward th' deer had gone, but some- 
thing was smashing through the idergrowth up the face 
of the hill, and the weary man pre. ared for a grim effort as 
he saw the red trail it left behind. He fell headlong m a 
thicket where the splashes were warm upon the withered 
leaves, staggered up again, and presently reeled against a 
cedar on the crest of a depression. There was nothmg 
visible, but he could hear a confused rattle and snappmg of 
twigs, and shook himself as he remembered the speed with 
which even a badly-wounded deer can make downhill. He 
had his choice of a long and possibly fruitless chase or 
another supperless night that would be followed by a very 
scanty breakfast en the morrow. Alton did not care to 
anticipate what might happen after that, because he had 
discovered on previous occasions that green tea will not 
unassisted sustain vigorous animation very long. 

In place ot it he went downhill, falling mto bushes, 
floundering to the shoulders through withered fern, and now 
and then stumbling over rotting trees, but the splashes 
grew closer, and he fancied the sound before him a little 
nearer. It was significant that there was any sound at all, 
because a deer usuallv clears every obstacle in its alrmist 
silent flight, and the gasping mar, took heart agam. Tlic 
quarry's strength was evidently failing as its life drained 
away, but darkness was also close at hand, and Alton knew 
190 



FOUL PLAY 

^^^i^'t^':^^!:-^ ff^-'y *- was a 

He went on, stumb ing gaspi„r f ] n^^^ 
for any man not accustomed to fi;Ku^-"°Y ^"^ "'^n. 
would find it sufficientydfficultfn '•?■,'" J''^'' ^°"""-y 
once more a trrev natrh .* ?• ^^'k through, until 

to use his rifle, for he and ^hf^ ^'"^''^ was no room 

fern together, and ^hilTLtltt" Z'Z'°?Il^ f-^'^st the 
came out. Twice it ^nt i,, f , ™'^°^^ "le 'ong knife 
'eaves, and then there was ^"I'nrV'"'^^ "'^ ^"°w and 
stiffly to his feet with^liL^^'^b """^ *e man rose 
smoking on the leeve of hff'"^, ''='"<^' ^"'l something 
without^isgust! and Then down^'attt ,"^ ^'.^"""^ ^^ >^ 

woh.s wou,'^%l^\^;^^^>;4was you^or me, and the 

. ."\:dVo7wTen t*t^o"/''« ^■■■.--e time, and the 
shoulders fnd the rifle beneath it'' "if '\^l'' "P°" ^is 
him better to carry the latter h.i/ *., J'' l"""^ P'eased 
home a deer with its^fore-lee drawn .*" Bushman brings 
Si-asped in front of him %ton f t'l ■" .=''°"'''«'-s and 
convenient position, and then s^nn^/J'''' '^ '"'° "^^ ^ost 
and glanced about him Hk Sn ^ '"°'"'"'' P^"''"^- 
heavy, but he was wearv an!l v ^" ^as not especially 
'hough a half-moon waT now ^row-'^P ^^' t away, while! 
the firs, it was dark bebw ^ °"""^ '"'° ''"'"ancy above 

-PperTcar'na"b;,"Z' *s°aira'nV;"\^T-'' ^"^^ -y 
floundered stiffly up the hill "^''^^ = ""'« as he 

™--.in^; fcf" S ir-- -dhe was limping on. 
warm repletion beside the ,nL,.^^ "^ ^ *"°" °^ '"esting in 
^ denser g.owth of t^l^l^Sl^j^^e.^^^ he. |., 

191 



Ill 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

been taught by necessity to hold the weaknesses of his 
body in subjection, but he was a man with the instincts of 
his fellows, and the thought of the steaming kettle, smell 
of roasting meat, glare of flickering light, and snug blankets 
appealed to him, and just then he would not have bartered 
the blackened can of smoke-tasted tea for all the plate and 
glass of Carnaby. His step grew a little steadier and the 
sound of the river louder, until he stopped suddenly near a 
prostrate fir. There was a gap in the dusky vault above 
him through which the moon shone down and called up a 
sparkle from the thin scattering of snow. Beyond it the 
dark trunks stretched back, a stupendous colonnade into 
the shadow again. There was nothing unusual in all this, 
but the man had seen something that made him check his 
breathinf' and set his lips. He knew he might be mistaken, 
but the glint he had caught for a moment suggested the 

barrel of a rifle. . .... i. j vi, ., 

He stood, as he realized instinctively, in the shadow with a 
great trunk behind him, and remained so, motionless with 
his blood tingling, because the bushman knows the difficulty 
of catching the outline of anything that is still. J hen 
there was a soft snapping, and the glint became visible, in 
another place, again, while Alton saw that he was not mis- 
taken He was also aware that the free prospector does not 
usually wait the approach of a stranger in silence with the 
rifle, and it flashed upon him that as the other man had 
moved there would in place of a shadowy trunk now be a 
patch of snow behind him. Alton regretted he had waited 
so long, and dropping the deer sprang backwards, feeling 
for the sling of his rifle. 

He was, however, a second too late, for there was a thin 
red flash amidst the undergrowth, and he reeled with a 
stinging pain somewhere about his knee. It yielded and 
grew almost useless under him, and while his rifle fell with 
a rattle he lurched into a thicket of withered fern. For a 
moment he lav still, his face awry with pain .ind groaned 
as he strove t6 draw his leg up beneath him. It felt numhul 
and powerless, and, desisting, he strove to collect his scat- 
tered wits, realizing that he had never needed them more 
than he did just then. 

192 



FOUL PLAY 

•J mj;f "^oS IShr was"/ '"'^''^l ^"^-^ *he forest 
Alton knew that an attenmrtn V""'' '"^ °^ '"°^' and 
be fatal. He was equally P'nWnfd7haVth"°"''' P^u"'^'"^ 
shot him would not have come o^^f 1 u^ ™" "'''° had 
out his magazine full or le^ve his task^nnl" t"".'"'' ^"h' 
was m the meanwhile "o si^n T( u- ""''"'^hed. There 
that hung aboMt the bu'hes and Alton? ^"^°"'^ "^" ^"""ke 
agam more udlv as he Idtfor H. . "I!J^ °^^' &^°aned 
was not done without a pu Lse but t^u^^^-"^ ''""^- ^' 
m simulating a moan of na^n f;H i,^ ''u'^ '"'^ difficulty 
of leaves, lav flat anH -ir? j ?^ ^''^" ''e heard a swish 
into the fera '*' ^""^ ^^^^^^^^ himself very softly farmer 

finger! ^nS^'^^th'o'rsnt^' b^"t' ^7 ^""^ ^"^-^ »"•« 
touch curiously pleasant and nrT' ,' ^e found its chilly 
and thrust it into his mo„?h A n.^lT'^ "^ ^ ''^"^f"' 
pver him, his head felt curiou^Ivl,. 'l"^'', "^^^ creeping 
■ng for his life with he "nstinrh-v ^^' *?"' ''^ ^^« «^hem- 
beast rather than reason There 1'"""'"^ °^ ^ ^°""ded 
h.m. but it was dulled by the roar of TJ '• =°""d behiH 
realized would drown the 4int rn^M. ., "J"' ^'''<=b i.e 
the fern grew scantier, dragged himself .r"*"' '"''' ^^'^ 
and crawled in amidst theXb'rr'&rthrot? 

Jv^ra'S^^h^rto'iXtrl-'''^ •^-Cs, but he 
'ay St 1 with the bitr tnjff t '^1 , • "^ ^is arms, and then 
'iffht shone down a few vardr,'* ''""•. ^ ^''^^ °f '"oon- 
to betray his h dhig-pLce bv th^f '/"/ ^^ ^^^ no desire 
possible that he S have crawl!^'"* °^ T^' ^* ^^^ also 
of discovery into he shadows tn^^f^' ^^^""^ '^^ ^^ach 
tion, for, though he could ZirHl Y T' "°* '^'^ ''"t^"- 
be acted from instinct or r.I 5"!.'^^ afterwards whether 
bent on waiting for and not .""^ ^" "^"^ °"*' be was 

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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

was awry, and there was fear in the staring eyes. It also 
seemed to AUon curiously familiar, but his bram was 
scarcely capable of receiving many diverse impressions just 
then, and he only realized that it was reluctantly and be- 
cause his safety demanded it, the man was looking for him. 
Alton felt a little relief at that. He was growing colder, 
and there was a bewildering dimness in his eyes, but he 
stiffened the muscles of his arms and tightened his grasp 
on the knife, wondering if his strength would last until he 
had his hands upon his enemy. . 

The man swayed forward as he crossed the strip ot 
moonlight with a little spring, then came on again with 
both hands on the rifle, waist-deep in the fern, glancing 
down momentarily at the trail his victim had made, and 
then about him again. Alton's face was drawn up into a 
very grim smile as he lay amidst the raspberries watching 
him for it was evident that the assassin fancied he had 
crawled straight on. The latter stopped once for several 
seconds, and Alton heard his heart thumping whUe the 
sound of the river seemed to grow bewildering. He stitt- 
ened his fingeri upon the knife-haft savagely, for the hor- 
rible faintness he could not shake off was growing 

upon him. .... , <. 

Then with a little jerk of his shoulders the man who 
caught sight of the opening moved again, faster than he 
had done, and the watcher surmised that fear and sav- 
agery struggled for the mastery within him. The latter ap- 
parently rose uppermost, for he came s'raight on through 
the thicket, sprang across the clear space, and would have 
plunged into the bush beyond it but that Alton reaching 
out, caught him by the ankle. Then he lurched forward 
with a hoarse crv, went down, and ro'led over with Alton s 
hand at his throat, and the blade of the knifo driven through 
the inner side of the sleeve of his jacket. 

That was the commencement of a very grim struggle. 
The stranger was wiry and vigorous, but the terrible hard 
fingers clung to his throat, and a leg was wound about him, 
while as he panted and smote he felt something was nppm§ 
his clothing. Instinctively he jammed the hand that hem 
it down, rolled over on his antagonist, and then shooK 
194 




"'™ -^'■^"^ "-" -H,STHKOAT.-..„.,,: 



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FOUL PLAY 

fiercely at a dim white facTJn^ T '"°'"^"' he smote 
the blade, but tClhir^s^rZ^,^^^^^'^^'^'''^'"^"-'^ 
had it entered a few inches Wer ''"'"= ''«^" "different 

were'^HnUntilfrdThrtf' 'f '*"= *^"""e fingers 
they rolled toge her out of thThr' ^^" ^T^' P"T'«= '^hen 
ing strip of radiance where the mn." u'"^ '5° "''= **den- 
hand was free now and witi, L T ''"i"^ ''°«'"- Alton's 
and the ground7e thrJt L >"'>'^««" his enemy 
strength. ^There was a crash '^th^ff ^''^-'^^ '^'" °f his 
the rancher's fingeTsHpoed from T" '^"""^'^ backwards, 
that rose partly up iESreeledTnfi' ^?'P' ^"'^ * ^^^e 
felt the baSrel of a'^rMe under hm H^ ^';"'. ^^ile Alton 
and clawed for it, l?mos" sLhS; He roHed on his side. 

aughed harshly as'h'e ra° d ht te "a" fle° V"''' '"" 
nash and a concussinn tuL '". ^eir a triHe. There was a 

nerveless finge^and a ,-^ t.-"^^""^"^''' "^"^ '"'° his 
was followed^ by f^tsteorth^'t"^ ^'""''* *^ ""dergrowth 
roar of the river ^ ""^^ "^^'^ prtsently lost in the 

-n'rgrtrart^^etr^ ^^^l^^^'/tlT^ -^" *he 
reeled about him.^ Then heXrchlA^"'' *'5^ ''^ t^""ks 
fell, sensible only that it waJ hffln '' ^"."^ H^ ^here he 
night when he awakened lo% .^^ ^°'-'- ^' ^^' still 
moon shone down and he saw that ?h °' ''"P°''l h"t the 
on the fern. His hands were lo ,t ff. f^ ""^5 ^hite frost 
horrible ache in every Itab whll "^^' *"*" *here was a 
struck through Wrn^ Twice hJ. ^ ^"^""'^ ^= the cold 
and fell back agaTbutlt last hv,nTl'° "■^"'^^ himself 

^Hlrer^r^^niS ^'^4,:''^^? for his hand- 
"as knotted abl.e his knee After fe''^^•^'^""*'■' '* 
on the overalls and saw t'at t.^^^t^'tS-'' '^""" 



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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

slowly. Then he felt for the matches in one pocket, and 
finding them, turned over cautiously and dragged himselt 
towards a fallen fir. He knew where to find the resin, and 
tore at the smaller branches fiercely, flung them together, 
and striking a match, watched the flame that spread from 
splinter to splmter and crawled amidst the twigs. At last 
it sprang aloft in a great crackling blaze, and A ton swayed 
unevenly and fell over on his side agam. After that he 
remembered nothing until he saw that the sun was in the 
sky and dragged himself to the thicket for an armful ot 
frosted fern. When he had piled it on the fire a gauzy 
blue column that rose straight between the firs replaced the 
flame, and the man who watched it vacantly for a while 
dragged himself back groaning for another armful oJ the 

*He afterwards fancied that he spent most of the day 
crawling between the fire and the thicket, but was never 
very sure of anything he did just then. Nor did he feel 
hungry, though now and then he clawed up and sucked a 
handful of snow, but he remembered that he was lying in 
the smoke when the bush grew dimmer and the red blaze 
more brilliant as darkness crept down. Presently he fan- 
cied that something broke through the monotone of the 
river, and after listening to it vacantly groped for the rii^e. 
He clutched it, and raising himself a trifle with difficulty, 
blinked at the darkness that hemmed in the fire until foot- 
steps came out of it. They were not furtive but apparently 
those of somebody coming straight towards the light in 
haste. Alton smiled curiously, and wriggled until he was 
out of the strongest light, and found support for the barre 
of the rifle. Then a cry came out of the shadows, is it 

^°Alton"id not answer, for his voice seemed to fail him, 
and he blinked at the mai who bent over him 

" You have been a long while, Charley, and I came \ery 
near putting a bullet into you just now," he said 

" Well," said Seaforth, " I did my best, and Tom s com- 
ing along behind me. What are you daing here anyway 

Alton glanced at him bewilderedly. I don t quite knovv, 
but I got the deer. It's somewhere around here, said lie. 



196 



FOUL' PLAY 

th;s?'?ts^d ^"^ ^■°" ''"'^' ""^y- 3"d whafs all 

th;n5c"i, ^'if "*'^'' "P =' him with dimmintr eves " T),„ 
thing s broken out again. I think ;t'« hu /•• l^ ■ , ^"^ 
while his arm slipped from under him T '. ''' f,^"'' ="'' 
with his feet in the smokbg fern ""' '"°"''^ '°"='' °^" 



W 



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CHAPTER XX 



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THE NICKED BULLET 

The grey daylight was creeping into the little tent and 
Alton sleeping at last when Seaforth rose to his feet. His 
eyes were heavy with the long night's watch which had 
followed a twelve hours' march, and he shivered as he went 
out. The morning was bitterly cold, and a fire burned 
redly outside the tent, but there was no sign of Okanagan, 
who had joined him during the night, nor had any prepara- 
tions for breakfast been made. 

" Tom," he twice called softly, but only the moanmg of 
the branches overhead answered him, and with a little ges- 
ture of impatience he strode into the bush. 

Seaforth had no definite purpose, but he was glal to 
stretch his stiffened limbs, and instinctively turned towards 
the spot where he had found his comrade. As he aj)- 
proached it he stopped, and watched the dim moving object 
that caught his eyes with some bewilderment. Tom of 
Okanagan was kneeling beside a thicket with a stick m his 
hand, and apparently holding it carefully in line with a fir 
After moving once or twice he drove it into the soil, and 
crawled on hands and knees into the fern so that Seaforth 
could only see his boots, and surmise by the rustling that 
he was groping amidst the withered fronds. Once h: 
caught a muffled expletive, after which the rustling ceased 
awhile, but it commenced again, and Seaforth wondered the 
more when Okanagan crawled out of the opposite side of 
the thicket, and set up a second stick in line with the other 
He had not the faintest notion of what his companion could 
be doing. . . 

" Are you finding anything down there, Tom? he ^p-'»- 
Okanagan rose up with a little grim laugh. " Thorns, lit 
said. " There's a condemned big one in my thumb. 
198 



THE NICKED BULLET 

haS^r^fTh^t^L'T^rc^^^ -r-" '"at the 

mark „p„n his comrade tholhllh.i"'^''" ''^'' '^^ 'heir 
s'gns of mental weakness in h . '"' "*''""' ""''«<! any 

" Aren't there pTentv to hi f ?''""^" ^^^°'<'- 
without looking'fo'r, hi'"" t^id"' "" "' ""' -""'^y 

wasSl^:;,fc^,-,J;;^;|t,,-^.i.t,e^.k^ 

I was," said Seaforth d?yran<H k.n, "'''"^ ^ ''^^'•■" 
h.n. dropped a big hand up^n^hl ' hou?"^^'" approaching 

Se'^ShtlfotJ^d^i^r u'^^^f "-^^ 
had worked his aSmmfrr>'t/'r"',''>' "'«= «■■ he 
cartridge and pointed to a maTic^nth^ "" '' "" * '^^ 

I make it. and he jumped when the eMot ^'"'JVy ^^^^I^ 

You think he did ' " sairl ^;,f ^t' '^,."*"^'^ shooting." 

and Okanagan laughed ' ^"""^ bewilderfd, 

'"■.s'h^e.s^';;enririf''i?:,S dl V°"" *°^ >■- -here 
S^^^.h^^^£^^^^?C^bo^^^^ 

-^oithlSisi^^^l^w:;-^-- 

'"P up the whole thW from th-V» .''.J"^' why I'm work- 
30" some more of it "^ ^ begmnmg. Now I'll show 

pan ^tJ^e^faTain^r/ °"^. "i *"° ^'^''^'^^'^ ""*" Okana- 
'He.r„-dw&-,-^-°--^r^ 

199 



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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

lay and waited for him." he said. " He was bleeding pretty 
Ud but he knew the oilier fellow meant to fimsh h m. 

a vcrv crim undertone m it. les, sir. i.iai j 

rthe%!^rin^"vi:eyn:u%^:er;S^^^^^^^^^ 

^as pi:yed out and blecfling har.l. or that man would never 
have got away when he once had his hands on him 

Seaforth stared at the rent-down ""'I'^^BX'''' |,"„tshe 
no preat diilicultv in reconstructing the scene. !""asi"^ 
f^rn and scattered leaves as well as the red smears on the 
snow bie plain testimony to the fierceness of that struggle, 
and hrp'ctured his comrade grappling with his adversa 
while hi^s strength flowed from him with that h^rr^ble ru 
U clde The lilht that came down between tower .,g nU 
showed that his face was grey and stern, and Okaiugan, 

who l<^ked at him, nodded as it were approvingly. 
" I've seen enough," said the former. If I can hn.i 

that man he will not get away from me. 

"Well " said Okanagan simply, we re short of the bui a 

now and I'll know better what to do with Harry when ^^c 

Snd it It's low down in one of those cedars yonder. 

'"'It will be deep in at that range. ^-^ Seafm^rii 

•• No," said Okanagan quietly. I f°" \;*'^"'' " ,,\ a 

It's pretty plain from the hole it made that it wf 'L' ' f 

common buliet. and I'm kind of anxious to know if all of 

■' SeTforth sSed a little as he assisted in the search and 
his'lTps°were set when Okanagan digging soj^mgo .0, 
the cedar-bark with his knife, laid it in his palm 1 1 v> 
fttle piece of blackened lead that was ragged n place 

200 



THE NICKED BULLET 

l..tle slow dotn at U^e back onhcnf '"'^' '"' "'"« *-' '^ 

a" h'^/eSen^! ^•'?. :.S nT^ ^ "'^"^ "'^ -' 
rest of it the better this wether"' ' '°°"'' ^<= «"'' 'he 

that bSwa7Ta^"k„S iW" " ^ ^.'^ »' '"" 'o™ off 

jhe night bitter SaS tid iu"'''" ""''• ='"<^ '''"■i"g 

W?"nds, he knew, do not hea h w^'lP "P°" »''<= '°f«t 
ditions. ' " "°* "^al, but fester under such con- 

hoarS" "" ''° ■■'• T"""" he said, and his voice was 

s°ml}r;;;:L"b^ft:;: --^ °''T^-- " Y-'" find 

evident .that he was „^o' wh^ny'r^n^lhr;'' r"^^" '\''"^='-<= 
over-fatigue, exposure and hunLtT ^ ?' , ^°'' °f "ood, 
him, and while he rambled dSl m l'^' '^^'" '""'« °" 
"P- It raged down the vallev-T n - ' " *"■"."" -''-'^ ''P""? 
the Pole, ind while thl ^ ^' h^'nS'iff with it the col<l of 
water cong^led in the ke H^ "^T'^ '^"' ^"^ voices, the 

snow to-night." he laid to-morrow. There'll be 

••n'his":LV°o?t&°aSKed^'°" "'T'' -"-'v 
'"ost of it, while when his e eW "lean.nglessly during 

Jjrner, laid the stone upon h?,h.nf!,'^ ^°"'' ^^o sat in a 

He had already rubbed °hehlJ^? T"^ ^""""^ =»' his knife. 

b"t was apparently not contenf.H ''°^" t°, ^^'^ '"'^ ^■'dth, 

and set hi^ lips each ?LeT. I ' t'"^ ^^^f"""* '^'t colde; 

through the roaring of the „in "tK^."*'"^ "^ ''^^' hroke 

«5 the wind increasfd It P".M ^^i'"'"'^'' '" ^°'>""e 

201 



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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

in the eyes, and S^-forth guessed what was in Ws com- 
panion's ^fhiughts „. .ne hard, gnarled fingers tightened 

"tomeLw the daytore through, and the snow came vWA 
the nTght. It beat upon the canvas and fell h.ssmg m the 
fire, which snapped and crackled the more fiercely whde 
acrid vapour crept into the tent, and now and then one of 
the mln^ eyes would close a moment. Seaforth had m- 
deed roused himself several times with a jerk when Okana- 
gan pointed to the roll of blankets and layer of sprmgy tvv.p 
Ind he saw that at last Alton was sleepmg '"ef tM'? • F'^^ 
minutes later the roar of the branches seemed to s nk mto 
a musical luUabv, and the last thmg he saw was the big, 
Lpassive bushman sitting as still as the ^t.onless figure 
beneath him on the opposite s.de of the tent. Then he was 
wafted back to England on the wmgs o. Ireams. 

It was broad daylight and warmer when he awakened. 
Outside the fire crackled noisily, and the great pmes rose 
soires of sombre green against a field of white. A'to" was 
afso awake%nd smiled at him, while Tom, who stood behmd 

''"■lt"ht gottbe done right now before the frost comes 
back, but te're not going to hurt >-". "^"y- . J^^j/^';;- 
"You'll walk down to the river and fill that kettle up, 

^'se'afo'rth wondered a little, because the snow lay a foot 
deept the bush and he could have filled the kettle beside 
the fire, but he floundered down to the river and felt a lit c 
rnore prepared to face what must be done when he ro- 
toned'^ When he did so he found that Tom had roUM 
back Alton's jean trousers to the knee, and saw a red .n a 
that broadened across the brawny hmb. It pulsecl o\cr 
he swe^l of the corded muscles that showed through tl, 
clear, smooth skin, and then Seaforth shivered and t"rn j 
his eyes away as they fell upon the welling depression \Mt 

the d'scolou'ed edges. Alto^-t:«^f .V^^fX'rem 
glanced at him with a twinkle in his eyes It isn t prettv. 
but I don't think Tom will keep us long, he said 

Seaforth felt the blood surge into his face, for it seen e, 
most unfitting that the wounded man should sympathize 



THE NICKF>D BULLET 

ar. H^.!^;r<:i;Ll:::"l:i;;^'>;:P:;^d- TI. quieter ,ou 

Alton smiled a little " J Hnnv' Hi • . 
said. " Still if it ^llrpieasJ yt^Vt" " "' "^«^^--^-" "^ 

sudd" "'01;";'^^*' ??f^^ '^^''' °"* t° W-. and felt 

that he felt Alton°s eves were imo',^°"' T °' ""='"• ''"' 
turned his face, which he fanrieH "' ^".°'-''i"gly he 
colourless, aside and for a mnr^^l. "^"^ ^""'""S a trifle 
gan, who was kneeling wiTT ,°' '^ ^^''^'''^'i "'^ana- 
smeared whiteness :fThe"no::,^^^,;;;^r-esscd "Pon the 
hear his own heart beatmJ^JZll i . ^eaforth could 

off a swinging branch uno"*^ ^ '"°'' '''^'''" 

the whitenefs futside flunT^n i •%""'' "?'' '^^'^ *^ "&■" 
He saw it move a inle and sjlu """" "^." ^''""'"''^^ k">fe- 
the lean, hard fin4rsdos4 5"^7T"'^'^^d a shiver when 
tremor ran through them an/, ?^ "P°" '"'^ °^"- A 
t:ntil Seaforth w!s gfad'that t". ^' ^'''f? '"''''''^^^ 
not glance at his comrade ht ^?''' P?'"^"'- "e dare 
sat very still in torment for', ^^°"'d "ot look at Tom, and 
arms had grown rTeTdfavth'^"''',"''''^ ^' ^'^" "'at Alton's 
. Then thf tensio^slacLned'and ?h?-"?™i"' ^ands. 
■n his breath with a gasp wMe Ok.n '"'"""^ '""" '^'^^ 
w.th great drops of f^St upon h.s fac^^" '"'' *° ''"^ '^"'^^ 

-ddedXn'lh:axfma1,''°:;.l"e.^ei°rim^'-'-<^ -'- -'^ 

i-i A i;^^^:!',-SS^^ : ^'^ ^°'"^ - -^ ^-- 

iusS momem'^t'hfs comrade's f ^ ''■^■'' ='"^' ^^"^ f- 
b"t it went suddenly awrv into /h "' ^' '^^' ''^' ='"'1 S^^v, 
a smile. ^ "^^ '"*° *''« grotesque semblance of 

fefortrX^tencHW,- ^- ■" •- -''^• 
^anVdirno/ant:!^ ^^ pg -ll^baZaVlL^Tg^ 

nowlaysZ=LSr{^s-K;S^^S: 
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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

whether the ordeal would never be over. It was only then 
he realized to the full all that Alton had been to him since 
the day he limped, ragged and very hungry, into a little 
mining camp. His friends in the old country had turned 
their backs on him, and Seaforth, who had been hopeless and 
desperate then, knew that he owed a good deal more thai, 
material prosperity to Alton of Somasco. _^ 

" Tom," he said hoarsely, " I think we're ready. 
Okanagan said nothing, but stooped again, and beatorth 
tiehtening his grasp of the contracting fingers, heard the 
sound of uneven breathing through the thud of snow upon 
the tent He was by this time a little more master ot 
himself, and looked steadily down on the white face with 
the grimly-set lips. His own was distorted into what was 
not a sympathetic smile, but a grotesque grin, and there 
was every now and then a reflection of it m the one awry 
with pain which looked up at him. Then Alton drew in 
his breath with a little quiveriii^- sigh, and there was a 
rattle as Okanagan dropped the steel. 
" I want that bandage— quick. We are through now, 

Seaforth had afterwards a hazy recollection of helping 
him to twist the strip of fabric about the firm white fleshy 
and that his hands made red smears on Alton s deerskin 
jacket when he stooped and lifted him a little There was 
no bronze in his comrade's face, but in place of it a curious 
yellow tinge, through which the greyness showed in patches, 
and with fingers that were strangely clumsy he held a Hask 
to Alton's lips. , . , 

The latter choked, and then his eyes opened wide again. 
" Pass it round. I'm figuring you're all wanting some, he 

'^Seaforth to humour him touched the flask with his lips 
and handed it to Tom, who did the same, and then screwing 
the top on it passed it back to Seaforth rio emptier than 
when it reached him. Alton, however raised his head a 
trifle further, and looked at both of them. 

" You'll have to do it better. Let me see the thing, ne 

'""okanagan glanced at him severely. "I guess you'll lie 
204 



THE NICKED BULLET 

snows of Northern CanidJ wh. ?°' a"»dst the firs and 

and -loctorsTr/few! but he eTviS'thrh"'";'' t'' ""^"^ 
skill that day, and Okanalil, mTl ^ ^"^ bushman his 
once smiled a'liHle as he sffd ^ ""' ^'''"^ ''' ^°^ ^^ 

faultXM^ llre1aa\cV?n"Ve°',r' '^'^ "°' ^°- 

you^e°e. Now^fSam'totr- ^S'"'- he is'my partner, 
with him." ' '° ''"°"' ^''^' *^ ^'^ going to do 

Okanagan's smile was just oerceotihlp ao ho t^u 

fn,^i!^'" ^^^ P!^"-^ ''"'' 3' they were before'" said Sm 
KoriLwerZ^^' ^"'^ ^- ^ ~ - ^wo otl^ 

"w, nesaid. We can get him down to Somasco and a 

205 



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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

livp doctor UP from Vancouver as soon as we can, and that's 
about all ThereTno time to lose. We'll start to-morrow 

Seaforth cast one glance at the still figure and grey face 
amidrthe blankets,%nd then clenched his hands as he 
bZdered out of the tent. A white flake fell upon h,s face 
another on his hands, and he shivered agam as he glanced 
at the forest. It was very evident that much depended 
upon their speed, and down between the sombre pmes came 
the sliding snow. 



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206 



CHAPTER XXI 



okanagan's road 

thefMoaT'andtrS; tuT "" ^^ ^.' "--* 
snow, when Seaforth n - , ^ '"""^ ''""'"^^ ^V ^''^ing 

white aTl ovefbt h tast ZtlTlV'°"^ T''"/ *"^ 
laborious searching had fonnHf»' """^"^S^" ^y dint of 
twoboulders wkh hnr ill , t ^^""^ ''"""'^'^ between 
repairing her with rfl» "'J!''"'' '"' ='"<' ''^''^ 'P™' ^ day 

cafion by nigSl ^ *° ^'^^ the mouth of the 

therkLw/Uthey trft^o ^cold^ 'j'-'' '' -'*- "^ 
themselves with more Than thp =°'^^.='nd Jaded to concern 

convey their cMc over h.^T ^°^ ^^^ '^^'^ '« 
thic':=is wliich div dec! them from th """^ '"'^ ""'""'^h '^e 
paratively untroubred watTr uTt then'^Vf'^' °J •^""- 
most of the dav orajrrrin^ tL I J^^y ^^'^ spent 

roared Uown the hollow^in . '^"°«/"""d the rapid which 
her with levers from rode to LT'' T''^' °^ ^''"^' 'ifti"^ 
with her down aTcHvhv biUth;.." "'^ "°^ ^"i' "^^" ^'''d'"! 
-on dearly nr^.n^Zl^Z Ta^ ""'^ °' ^^^^^^^ 

feren«v%hrite"redlim°:ndZt' "^ '""l'?^'- "^^* ''"' -dif- 
"is W as he lo'o.'ed'"up^"a^ Hf^U^LIo^^ '''^ '^'^ '" 

an day " he^s^d '°" ^"^ '"'^ "' ""'' ^e can't stop here 

roc°'wh1!rdropp:d't:"the'''-"^ f'^T'^ ^' 'he wall of 
strip of bou&nd g eat fllTen^'r' ^'^'"^ '^■"'' ^""^ ^^e 
the undergrowth crept'^and o^" '^^tT ''"'"'' "'''^'^ 

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ALTON OF, SOMASCO 

" There's a gully yonder, but if we worked back round 
the hillside I don't quite see how we're coming down," he 

" No," said Alton dryly. " I'm not good at flying. Well, 
you had better start in and carry me." 

Seaforth stooped and grasped his comrade round the 
thighs, which were lashed together with deerhide with a 
stiff strip of cedar-bark outside them. Okanagan passed 
his armj about his shoulders, and they rose with a jerk and 
stood swaying unevenly for a moment, while Seaforth won- 
dered with a curious feeling of helplessness whether they 
would ever accomplish the journey to the canoe. It would 
have tested the agility of an unencumbered man, while he 
was almost worn out. and Alton cruelly heavy. 

" Heave him up a trifle," said Okanagan. " Now then ! 

Seaforth gasped, and floundered forward through a foot 
of snow that hid the holes he sank into and slipped away 
beneath him as he clawed for a footing on the boulders, but 
with strenuous toil they made a hundred yards or so, and 
then laying down their burden stood still, panting. Alton 
lay silent, with half-closed eyes and the soft flakes settlmg 
on his grey face, in the snow, while Seaforth gazed about 
him despairingly. There was rock and shadowy forest 
behind them, and in front the smoking rush of the 
river, while though it was but afternoon the light was 

" Get hold again, Tom. It's not good to wait here," he 
said with a shiver. 

This time with infinite difficulty they made fifty yards, 
and Alton's face showed what his silence had cost him when 
they set him down again. Seaforth stooped and drew the 
blanket about him with a great gentleness. 

" We did our best. I'd change places with you, Harry, 
if I could," he said. 

Alton smiled a little, but said nothing, and in five min- 
utes they went on again, Seaforth gasping from exhaustion, 
with a horrible pain in his side and his feet slipping from 
under him as they struggled up a sloping face of rock, but 
they had won forty yards when Tom went down and Alton, 
who fell heavily upon him, rolled over, Seaforth held his 
208 



OKANAGANS ROAD 



bj-eath a moment until he heard the voice of the injured 

axeLZ|t]p^Sr^.S;a^lH:t^-^- 
The lashmgs, however, had not slackened the rPrl.^rK i, 

S^forlrco-,^ Tofrre^t^r ^E^l^'^^'^ 
clogging weight of snow witi^ hifn and the whK! " 

You have got to hold out, Charlev Therp'= tl,» .,„ 
below you," he said . v- ancy. i nere s the canoe 

Slipped from under him and he fell uoon Altn,l ," t 

h^:tufd^^^'eTw"AIt V ^-^Shi- tofrfS Tu^t! 
and that iVr'l °" '^^ ''^'■y 'till with his face awry 

comrade "'" ""' <=°"''^^"-'i°" - the eyes of his 

so.emnly shook his i5st at the forest ' '°""''" 

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ALTON OF. SOMASCO 

lay close by them now. He was still partly dazed when 
he took up the paddle and dimly saw the white pmes s..ding 
past through a haze of snow. Nor did he remember 
whether he or Okanagan set the tent up when they reached 
the island near the canon, but he was sittmg mside it 
holding out a smoking can of tea to Alton when some time 
after darkness had closed down Tom came in. The snow 
had ceased in the meanwhile and a biting frost descended 
upon the valley through which the roar of the canon pulsed 
in long reverberations. Okanagan dropped the ritle he 

" I might have left the thing. The horse is dead," he said. 

"Dead?" said Seaforth vacantly. . „^ . , u 

Okanagan nodded. "Yes," he said. "Somebody has 
saved me the trouble. Two bullets in him. 

Seaforth was almost past anger now, but the tea splashed 
from the can he still held as he realized the thoroughness 
of the work of their enemy. 

" Then how are you going to pack Harry and the other 
things over the range? " he said. 

Okanagan's face was almost expressionless. We re not 
going to. It can't be done." , „ , , . . u- 

Seaforth said nothing. The last fall had shaken hin, 
severely, and he had realized since they started that the 
task before them was almost beyond the power of any two 
men but had refused to contemplate what must happen it 
they failed in it. Now he could see that it was impossible 
but dazed with utter weariness as he was he could no 
think consecutively, and only felt a numbing dismay hat 
in some strange fashion softened the Wow while in place 
of considering the future his memory reverted without his 
will to the incidents of that strange ]0urney They rose 
blurred before him as the creations of an evil dreant the 
wild descent of a rapid, the desperate effort o the portage. 
the long hours of toil at the paddle, and endless unroUms 
of whitened pines that crawled by them through the snow 
Now at least, when he could do no more, that stupendous 
toil was finished. Turning, he glanced at Alton, who had 
with apparent difficulty swallowed a little of the tea. He 
lay amidst the blankets with eyes closed, breathing uneven.). 

310 



OKANAGANS ROAD 



^^;&"?^° °C.f "SV^KS-^ -d bac. the 

pitiless heavens, the s ars shoTs^^lf^ '"" T^ ^'°'' '" "^e 
^-he COM Of .he ic. i^ofcr^f-^ --v... 

ca;e"^T«'a'„"L1;rng7;o'u„Tthrbo^™ -"^ '"^^ 
said. ^ °""° '"e boulders now," he 

fo '^/^?ewXTa;p°ned^?''""'"f ".'■^'^'' -^ ^--ed. 
from the frost H,s yoke 1 .„'^°""l'i "'"" unsheltered 
•■ Then what is to b^ done p^ "^ """^ ^^''^ ''' ^^ »*k«=d. 

'■ T° eSVa^. "^^ ^^-- ''^^- he answered quietly. 
dowJit.'" '"' ^'''°'"''- "S'i". no man has ever gone 

caL''?hro^ugh*^":f„';;= !:e" whi" ^''T' '\' ' ""- °-e 
well with mfn in it ?t's easv mtW*'' '''°"'^."'' ^° «« 
. Seaforth laughed mirthl'Sy^'"""^'". -^"yway/' , 

•s, W.II any of us come ou, .gain alive? ^ ^ •^""*'°" 

a Xrat^fCfhet^^ -I'^''-!" 

beTrel-ho^^^^^-^^eW^^^^^^^^^^^^ 

eyes. ' ^^ ^ '""* brighter m his companion's 

buUft; s'Vtte'S'b':"",'/ *"; 1"S^^*y '-°-. 
there are some folks in the oM t""^ °f """-y- Now, 
you don't come back?" **'" "''^ '°"""-y ^^o'd be sorry if 
Seaforth smiled a trifle bitterlv " t j ..... 

the best friend I ever had ?; tV "' ^"^^ '*• ^ ^°"nd 
seems ^o^therway^^^'ll-^Vthe canon V."'^^-^"'' - 'here 

•-STpie'e nne".Sh?' ""M^^^^ -*'' Alton's 
-'^e. Both ^of them ^^^^^^^^f^^Z^^:-^^ 

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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

on their friend's behalf might well cost their life, but big, 
untaught bushman and once gently-nurtured Briton were m 
one respect at least alike, and that was a fact which would 
never again be mentioned between them. 

It was an hour or thereabouts later when Alton opened 
his eyes. 

" I don't know that I asked you, thouK'i I meant to, but 
you and Tom staked two more claims off ? " he sai '• 

Okanagan appeared a trifle embarrassed, but Seaforth 
laughed. " I'm afraid we didn't. You see, we started in a 
hurry, and I forgot." 

Alton stared at him a moment in bewilderment, and then 
through the pain that distorted it a curious look crept into 

his face. , . . ,, >. 

" I figure you're Iving, Charley, and you don t do it well, 
he said. " Folks li.m't usually forget when they leave a 
fortune behind tl.' m." 

Seaforth smiled a little. " Well, I may have been, but a 
fortune didn't seem very likely to be much use to me then 
or now," he said. , 

Alton gravely shook his head, but the two men s eyes 
met for a moment, and Seaforth felt embarrassed as he 
turned his aside. There was no need to tell the injured 
man that his welfare had appeared of more importance to 
his comrades than any profit that might accrue to them 
from the silver mine. . 

" Well," he said simply, " you or Tom should get througti 
to Somasco." . . j ^ u- 

" I hope so," said Seaforth, as Okanagan signed to hiffl. 
*' You see, we are all going there together by the shortest 
way, down the cation." „ 

Alton stared at him a moment. Now I had ne 

commenced, and then stopped abruptly. , , , . . 

Once more Seaforth smiled. "Then you had thought 
about it, Harry?" , ,. 

Alton's eyes closed a little. " I'm not one of the folks 
who go round telling people all they think, he said. 
" There's no way down that cation." 

Seaforth understood what was passing in his comrade 
mind, and knew that Alton had nc ■:ept silence because ot 

212 



OKANAGANS ROAD 

e'qui'J'i" SL'"^ "'■'''^-^ -" '^-e 'he chances were 

you if I could" ^ ''""= '"' ''"■«'• " ^ would stop 

caA an°d"':^hC„1o?|f o^:^' ^"'■""^- ■" ^t'". you see you 
companions uZ 'ukAl°:^~LT^ ^eather-braiLd 

an^ fctaVsilen" e iirfheT'."' '^'^"''y --' »° ^'eep. 
and the rart" of'S^i'stnir '"' ""= --"^^ °^ -'" 

45g\"e"r'CShr\.t,^„^i^«n°^ '"^ ''.^^"^''*- 
hitter frost, and as thev o;,7^ ^.u " ^""^^ ""^cr the 

towards the stupendourrent in ,h " *''" '""•°°"^ «^^^" ""^ 
poured through S'^nVl^„ii!,T°""*^'".''de the river 

the still figurf Wine hSd^fn tt'' 1^^'''' '^ ^"^^ 'hen at 
of the can^ ^ ^ '"*'' '" '^e blankets in the bottom 

unSht'Se'aVsuX'lf ''r.^. '"^Z ^^""^ '''d on smoothly 

mist wK^eolvifeen fl"n h' t'"'' *?^"^'^^ 'he film o^ 

tumult that''^ureYdol''X';afi:n'' 'rVn^r',^'^'' 
quickened, the craft- Inrlil.i 1 T ' , '■"^^ *he strokes 

%htwasC'edou Isthevn^r^j'-'^''"' ""'^ ^e sun- 
ncss. Hieh thronoi; tL ■ P'""S^d ">to spray-filled dim- 
stone, an^the rivef thl^ rJS?°"I ^^""^ ^"'°°* walls of 
^ white track^Tfoam^taT&eeT ^^7 "^^ ^''^^ '" 

«lly and T^embLred ™h avails whirl by him mechani! 
-na remembered that the canon could not last for- 

213 



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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

ever. There was comfort in the reflection, because the 
miles would melt behind them at the pace they travelled 
at. That was so long as the stream tlowcd .straiRht and 
even, but he did not care to contemplate what would happen 
if it foamed over any obstacle. 

For a time he saw nothing but froth and spray and 
flitting stone, and then the roar that came back from the 
towering walls swelled into a great diapason terrifying and 
bewildering. Seaforth glanced over his shoulder and saw 
that Okanagan was dipping his paddle. 

" A fall or a big rapid. We've got to go through, he 
said. 

Seaforth swept his gaze aloft for a moment while the be- 
wildering roar grew deafening. Nothing that had life m it 
could scale the horrible smooth walls that hung over them, 
and through a rift in the vapour he could see a filigree of 
whitened pines that seemed very far away projected against 
the blue. They were, he fancied, at least a thousand feet 
above him, and he and Okanagan alone far down in tin- 
dimness of another world with their helpless companion. 
Then he ..^rved himself for an effort as he looked forwani 
into the spray and vapour that whirled in denser cloiid-i 
ahead. Nothing was visible through its filmy folds, but 
his flesh shrank from the tumult of sound that came out 

of it. . . .1 1 

"Hold her straight," cried Okanagan, in a breathless 
roar, and Seaforth just heard his voice through the diapason 
of the river. , . , , 

Then the canoe lurched beneath them, and sped faster 
still, plunging, rocking, rolling, while the froth beat mm 
her, and Seaforth whirled his paddle in a frenzy. Hie 
shrinking had gone, and he was only conscious of a curioiis 
unreasoning exaltation. A pinnacle of rock flashed hy 
them, there was a roar from Tom, and straining cvcr> 
sinew on the paddle they swung, with eyes dilated ami 
laboured breath, sideways towards the wall of stone, nicii 
the froth that leapt about it swept astern, and they were 
going on again, faster than ever, and apparently down a 
declivity, the spray beating upon them and the canoe swing- 
ing her bows out of a frothing confusion. 
214 



OKANAGANS ROAD 

the craft appJarc, , , d Z f ''"' '"^'^'■""'"■b . "n.il 
l^ily with a preat sia^h " l"'"' ""''" '^'"'' =•"'' f^"" 
she swung ro.md a L-rca hh^k IlT' ' 'l!"""' '" ''"". 
driving forward ait,;,, , , a ^'^' "'"' "i«" "'ey were 
and th^ere a >^umtd " ,it,e 'Im:, '"7' """""">■ ^^"'^ her.' 
flitting back to them ' He d Ok^' '" f'^'"' "^^' '^'""^ 
shoulder, and glanced nu ml .,, ^''*^i'! ' I'^'''"*-' '" his 
strip behind tt^ hat "^ „ed ""7', .Th-e was a green 
fall roaring into the oxil h„ , '/"^'^ together and 

o«teverj.tl^ng.,ritl'ac-i'his\;ef "' '""' "'"' '"°"'=d 
mal'd^of thifr's",-.:;;' <-l-r in,pression of the re- 
noon when the U 11 l/Zui,^' I' T,''"''' '" "^^ ^f^^" 
and it seemed to 1 m thaUho -, t'"" ' "" '••'"^" '^■■«"<'. 
"f a great pit w iTe he hi 7 T'°"'"'' '" '^"= b<'tt.,m 
them. Here and here fstrn fr.'V'-""'^'! away behind 
from river, and wheTpresemh Ok "''''' ""^' ''"''''"' "'^^^ 
forth felt by the Xntre of , V f^^'?" ""<='' ""' ■^™- 
paddle. LooWng o "ward Vr I ".''"' "^"^ ^="* '«^'<i"P his 
were bouhlers in the dnnnol ,n 1 "' ""'%°' '''■ ^"' '^'"= 
across them. Thev were nlmT/ " *^''^' '''' '=>>' J"'"""'' 
reached the shingle '""'" "P°" " ^^'"^" the bows 

«c^'::-"T,':?'^lt'X t "^\ A"- -^ore, and then 
seen ■, ,„■ ...l.^^coOTUy ' ''' "^"^ °^ ^ ^irth seldom 

thrlugh!"'hi"lif' .?^'"o°^V''fi" r'^'^ ^°' »° ^''"P ->• way 
while I iake first turn ^ "'' "^^ *'"' ^"^ "'^'^^ ''"PPor 

w."r-d::rin'?cv S''"w^,er hr'^' .'''.' u'^^-^-* -- 

fhingle .slipped beneath hh^^hn/''"'",'' '^" ''''■ The 
'imbs. and he felt v^!?- 1 the s ream frothed about his 
los bef' re hfm 'hTs L^d?' '"'' '^^'P''^" ""^ 'hat great 
frost, and the wounds bled J ^^ 'P'" '"'' "P^"'^'' ^v the 
«<1 glare of the firToka'aln '"'7 T^'' *"" ^^hile the 
''ranches flickered aWH^ U^' ^""'''J'^ "''"' "^'^hed-up 
'he power went fronM.^m InH h' P^"''^ -^""^ ^'"'«^- ""'H 
It was appa'reX'':rknor^TmT'--'T'^.'^'^P'-- 



hut 



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'ALTON OF, SOMASCO 

unusual thing for the men who come to grips with nature 
unsubdued in the frozen North to attempt, and accomplish 
more than flesh and blood seem capable of, and all night 
lone they fought their grim battle, hewmg until sight and 
br^thing failed them, and then staggering back to he 
dripping and gasping by the fire. Arms grew powerless 
eyes were dim, the rents in their wet hands gaped and 
there was blood upon their deerskins ; but little by little the 
notch widened, until at last the steel splashed in the water 
that deflected it, and Seaforth fancied they were beaten. 
Still, there was no relaxing of effort, and as the stars were 
paling in the rift high overhead he heard a sound that was 
not the monotone of the river. Another man heard it, too, 
for Okanagan came floundering towards him through a 
tumuh of foam and wrested the axe from his hand for 
five minutes he smote fiercely, and then raised a hoarse, 
half-articulate cry of triumph. 

There'wTsT"smashing and snapping. The huge trunk 
rolled a little, rent, and swept away, and Seaforth reeling 
shorewards sat down with bleeding hands in the ashes, 
laughing foolishly, until Okanagan stooped and smote his 

shoulder. . „ 

" Get up," he said. " It's time we were going. 
There was not light enough to see by, and they had eaten 
nothing during all those hours of heroic toil, but Seafortli 
seemed to realize that the issue lay beyond them now, ana 
it did not matter greatly what they did or failed to do. He 
was also consumed by a desire to escape from that horrib e 
place of shadow, and striking the tent in clumsy haste 
they launched the canoe. After that he remembered little. 
though he had a hazy recollection of stopping somewhere 
and helping Tom to make a fire, for there was wood in 
abundance everywhere. Whether he ate anything he did 
not know, but all day the canoe slid on comparativel) 
smoothly, and they toiled at the paddle until hands and 
arms seemed to move of their own volition. Seaforth teit 
that he would gladly have lain down and frozen, but an 
influence which had apparently nothing to do with his vvm 
constrained him to labour on. 
216 



OKANAGAN'S [ROAD 

not close on the Somasco^vlfley '•' "°' '"'' '"^^ *<= >•« 

grfsp/°;nd Xn he 'shtetr' ""!, ""''' «"^^" '-* '"eir 
away 'behind them fe h/""'"^ "?"'" "^'^ P^^^^'^ ^M 

stn. in the bottZof Ihe^"ca e'"Tr'next''SL '^^ 
clearly consc bus of was thp r,n„ „„ ( -^ "^ "^ ^as 

himself as the wood^ flung bTclthelound Th' "' "'"^ 
some d stance from h;,^ „„ "^ck tne sound. Ihey seemed 

a broadenW strro w^r"' ^a'' "?' T°" '^""^ d°*n °" 

Where have we got to, Tom ? " he said. 
Ukanagan laughed softly. " Tolerably cIo^p nr, c 
"Xh: : fiaV;' I'?' tfeyVe heaTfu^ atl\^ .i ,•'°■ 
Tom'" • W=^^<^°™"&- Is that you and the other": 
'H^'Xn»Sf;^^S^-PPed amidst 
started out^°he saTci. '''' °' "' "^'" '''''' ^^^ ^^en we 



217 



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CHAPTER XXII 



HISS DERINGIIAM DECIDES 




! 






It was a clear winter day, when a big side-wheel steamer 
bound for way ports down the Sound lay at the wharf at 
Vancouver waiting for the mail. Towering white in the 
sunshine high above the translucent brine, she looked with 
her huge wheel-casings, lihes of winking windows, and triple 
tier of decks more like a hotel set afloat than a steamer, and 
the resemblance was completed by the long tables set out 
for breakfast in the white and gold saloon. No swarm of 
voracious passengers had, however, descended upon them 
as yet, for though winter touches the southern coast but 
lightly, it is occasionally almost Arctic amidst the ranges of 
the mountain province, and the Pacific express was held up 
somewhere by the snow. 

Bright though the sunshine was, a bitter wind came down 
across the inlet from the gleaming hills that stretched back, 
ridged here and there by the sombre green of pines, towards 
the frozen North, and Deringham and his daughter, who 
were setting out on a visit to a town -'f Washington, had 
sought shelter in the saloon. Alice Deringham leaned back 
in a corner, a very dainty picture in her clinging furs, with 
the ivory whiteness of the panelling behind her. Her father 
sat close by, with a face that was slightly puckered, and 
thoughtful eyes, turning over a packet of letters that li.id 
reached him from England the day before, and his daughkr 
fancied that their contents by no means pleased him. There 
were a few of her passengers in the saloon, and one couple 
attracted her lang^uid attention. 

She could see the man plainly, and he was one of the 
usual type of Western citizen, keen-eyed, quick and nervous 
of movement and gesture, and incisive of speech. He had 
a bundle of papers before him, and appeared to be making 

218 



MISS DERINGHAM DECIDES 

conversation. ^ aisjointed fragments of his 

precPa^^'^N'ow did ?^t •• ^^'[> ^^'"""«^. -Iver de- 
going in?" °^ ''"^ ^ P"' '" anything about the Democrats 

a.w'^ys ^ign '^ rti' ''T^' i"'^' -d -^ad 

inherited from her mother whoTfw\"''"'u "''" '"ay have 
for anything connected w^hK-'* ^^" ^^"^ at Carnaby, 
interested il the rain's com^nT"'- .^''"' ^''^ ^as mildly 
not see. The girl wa" dresTedZv' T^°f' ^^« ^^e could 
ingham decided that the ffi IVI ^'f "'y- *"'' ''^'^« Der- 
w.th and was by no mean/ new 7^ T' """"'^ '° ''^S'" 
pretty, slender figure and fh» • i T ^o^^ever, set ofT a 
while the little un^gloved fingers on n''"'^-,'^"*^ ''■•°^" ''air. 
shapely. Alice Deringham S^ i^^"?'i "'^''^ "'hi'e and 
os.ty what her face wislfe and "f. ""f .f '""«"'^ '""- 
pity for her. She did notrn n 7 ^ ''?" contemptuous 
fitting for a woman '°""'^''' ^"<=h an occupation 

f^^'^S:^;^^^i^J-^^^^ a satchel 
?u? t^shl--''^'^^ -^^ P-La ^pTr t^l 

comJa& ^°T^e^sir'l'i°rh"P T ''°,<^- >" »«= -d to a 
a special guard to' kp'h tys'oThim"" 'f' '"" I* '°°^ 
done ,t down our way thevvTOMMn'f i, ' ^ ^"= '^ he'd 
him in a tar-keg and set a iTZ fn t.- ^^^ ^^"''"^' ''"' P"t 
hind the times i^ the DomtaiL^n "'° '"'^- ^""^^ ^« ^ay L- 

anothefm'an/giiljot?^^^^^^ 'J'^'^t^'' '^°"ars/' said 
peringham wal notTn!erested^-n T/"'f^°'i}'^"' b"* Miss 
having heard about She wa ho -'""'""'"'''^^^'l 

to. see that her father was t';^^^''^^' ^ ^""^ astonished 
;v.th a serious look in hh LTbSel^,' ^''^/''"^ ^°"P 
what hastily at his oaoer, wL u ^'anced down some- 

the voices ^ew less Z net and thatT..^'"" ^'"'- '^'" 

hroke monotonously through fhl^ l^^ "an dictating 

P-ched her fatherU^n^^X in tU^^'^ ''''- 

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" Mr. Forel has just sent it down, sir," he said. " You're 
Mr. Deringham? " , ., ■ 

Deringham tore the envelope open, and while he sat 
staring at the paper inside it his daughter noticed that there 
was a little pale spot in his cheek. His hand also appeared 
to tremble slightly when, saying nothing, he passed the 
telegram across to her. 

" Regret to inform you th my partner met with accident 
in the ranges, and his condition is critical," it read. " Can 
you send us nurse or capable woman? Mrs. Margery ill. 
Seaforth, Somasco." 

Alice Deringham shivered a little. "He is evidently 
dangerously injured." 

' It appears so" said Deringham, and his daughter after- 
wai >> remembered that his voice was hoarse and strained. 

The girl, however, said nothing for a while. She was not 
impulsive, and her face remained almost as cold in its clear 
whiteness as the panelling behind it, but her heart beat a 
little faster than usual, and she was trying somewhat un- 
successfully to analyze her sensations. In the meanwhile 
the voices of the men who now surrounded the one with the 
paper reached her, and she noticed vacantly that her father 
seemed to be listening to them. 

" They'll hang him, anyway," said one. 

" Made no show at all when they got him hiding in the 
bush," said another. " Still, you couldn't expect much from 
that kind of man. Killed him for a hundred dollars in his 

"Yes, sir," said the first speaker. " And he didn't get all 
of them. The man was his own cousin, and too sick to do 
anything. Well, thank God, we haven't got many vermin 
of that kind in the Dominion." 

Deringham, who had picked up the telegram, let it slip 
from his fingers as he rose, and the girl wondered at the 
change in him. He seemed to have grown suddenly hag- 
gard, and the lines upon his face were much more apparent 
than usual. . , 

"You will excuse me a minute, he said, and the gin 
noticed the curious deliberation of his movements and the 
stoop in h's shoulders as he crossed the saloon. 

220 



IfejlA". i 



MISS DERINGHAM DECIDES 

an?'fWff'" ^'"^ -^'f! "'°"' "^^" °"« ="^''^ i" the past, 
and the difference in his rose might not have attracted a 
stranRer s notice, though it was evident to his daughter that 
tXH^,^'' '^°"''^d him. Why he should be so dis- 

see, but that appeared of the less importance, because she 
was endeavouring to evade the question why the telegrar^ 
should a so have caused her a curious consternation ?k 

theL^lt'"!^' '''"''!''' "1^^ '^' ^^'^ been accustomed to 
the homaee of men of mark and polish in England-but 

he'"' :" h'T'.*'"^ approaching dismay she heard tha 
the man who had supplanted her father was, though she 
could scarcely contemplate the possibility, dyiAg ^ 
U..J meanwhile Deringham walked into the bar, and 
leaned somiewhat heavily upon the counter as he asked for 

wh^ ^^ .^f ".-^-^ "" 'P'i'^'^ ^ ""'^ °f 't. 3"d the steward' 
Te sefh down ^^'" ' ^''""'' ^' ''''" ^""""^'^ '^ 

feeiin/well?-'^'* ""' ''" ^°"' ''''" ^' ^'^^ "You're not 
Deringham made a little gesture of assent, and the man 
rew h.ni out a chair. "That is good brandy," he said 

Hlr°e'^'TAf^';,^"f"^.*?^^ ^"^^'^ -^ ha've ano h r! 
rln» w '^f "''"'• They've got that fellow up at Slo- 
cane. but one feels sorry the boys didn't get hold of him 
Hanging s not much use for that kind of man " 

aside" hnt^H' '^"■^'" *'""'''''^ ^f ^^ '''™^t the journal 
aside, but his voice was even. "The brandy is rather 
better than any I've had of late," he said. " You «n Jve 
me another glass of it." ^ 

rZl"" ^' i^^u- *^" i"'"«t« he lay somewhat limply in the 
chair and his reflections were not pleasant. He had 
peculated with another man's money aSd lost most of it. 
as well as profited by several transactions which were little 

M^rto ?nH r'i"t-= """' *?* "^' ^^ ^- «= he had gone 

itlerto, and he had ma curious fashion retained through 

't all a measure of inherited pride. Now, however the 

as He was a thief and a miscreant, no bett-r than the 
brutish bushman who had slain his sick kinsman for a h^n! 



Infill I 



i I : Mi :.ji 

m 



U ! 






■\ 







ALTON OF SOMASCO 

dred dollars. There was, as he had read already, noth- 
ing to redeem the sordid, cowardly treachery of that 
crime. 

Deringham was, however, proficient at finding excuses 
for himself and shutting his eyes to unpleasant facts, and 
the phase commenced to pass. He had, he recollected, 
plainly stated that he merely desired Alton to be detained a 
little amidst the ranges, and it became evident to him that 
what had happened was the result of Hallam's villainy. 
Hallam had injured him as well as Alton, while there was 
no controverting the fact that the rancher's decease would 
relieve him of a vast anxiety, and his first indignation 
against Hallam also melted when he rose composedly 
from the chair. He felt that Seaforth expected something 
of him, and it appeared advisable to consider what could 
be done, while a project already commended itself to him. 
In another five minutes he had rejoined his daughter, look- 
ing more like the man who urbanely presided over the not 
always contented shareholders' meetings. He realized, 
however, that he had a slightly difficult task before him. 

" You seem to take the news rather badly, father," said 
the girl. 

Deringham smiled deprecatingly. " I have not been quite 
so well lately, and it upset me a trifle," said he. " I have a 
regard for our Canadian kinsman and have been inclined 
to fancy that you shared it with me." 

" Of course," said the girl indifferently. " Mr. Alton has 
been especially kind to us." 

" Yes," said Deringham. " Mr. Seaforth must also be 
very helpless up there alone, with his comrade seriously ill. 
Now there is no great necessity for my journey down the 
Sound, and I have no doubt that the business could be 
handled almost as well by letter. I do not know that there 
is very much that would please you to be seen in the 
Washington townships either." 

Alice Deringham glanced at him thoughtfully. " And? " 
she said. 

Deringham glanced down a moment at his shoes. " I was 
wondering if you could be of any use up there." 

His daughter laughed a little. " I think that is readily 

222 



MISS DERmCHAM DECIDES 

^.^I think there .s a reason-and it would please me," he 

n^*?^" J '"^""'^ ^ pleased to hear it." 

JJeringhara appeared to consider, because thp mnt;™. 
w^ch mfluenced him were ones he could not well^^veal 
JV/^h'^'rntte'rd'" ''" "^""""^-^"^ "-- ^"^'e 
nnHp.^^^i'"' T''^^ ^ ""'^' ^"d her father watching her 
^Sh"''^?^^'"^?""^' ^"'l how her red-goM^hair 
«usrof t^ffh l^ ' ^hite panelling. It was pofsibl,^- 
cause of this background he also noticed the faint flicker 
of warmth that crept into her face and neck? and that 
lusly ' ^'°^ '" ^'' ^>" ^' had not seen there p?e- 
whlt^J'obiec'j to."'^ '''"' " '°'^ distinctness, "is precisely 

ou^tinn^''^? '^yi''''' ?J''"'^- " I think that aspect of the 
quest on will not be evident to Alton " 

a lit«e " 9^t!n *>'^'''' '^^"^ *^ *i"S^^ °^ colour deepened 

vo^e"of fh™ '^''' "^-^l"?' ^""^ '^^ '^° =^t 'ti" while the 
'• Vfrv i;J • r^^" d'<^,tat'"8: jarred upon one of them 

2i3 



lihi 



rlin? 




I 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

Alice Deringham turned, and saw tlie girl's fingers 
flittering across the paper, but her face was still hidden 
and the monotonous voice continued, " We made a few ad- 
vances during the last week or two." 

The other passengers had gone out of the saloon, and it 
was very quiet save for the soft flow of words and rattle of 
the pencil, when Deringham once more unfolded the 
telegram. 

" I am afraid it is going hardly with the man," he said 
suggestively. " ' My partner met with accident — his con- 
dition is critical.' The message left Somasco yesterday." 

There was a rustle at the adjoining table, and the girl's 
pencil fell to the floor. 

"Will you wait a moment, please?" a voice said, and 
the dictation broke off abruptly, while when the girl rose 
Alice Deringham found herself suddenly confronted with 
Miss Townshead. Deringham, who stood up, made her a 
little decorous inclination. 

" I am pleased to see you again," he said. 
The speech was apparently lost upon the girl, who did 
not seem to notice his daughter's greeting. 

" I could not avoid hearing i few words of yours," she 
said. " Mr. Alton — or his partner — is seriously ill." 

Deringham handed her the telegram, and stood watching 
her curiously while she read it. He saw her lips set a trifle, 
and a slight lowering of her eyes, but though the girl seemed 
to draw in her breath he fancied it was not with con- 
sternation. 

" That is all we know," he said. 

Miss Townshead gave him back the message, but Dering- 
ham did not see her face, for she and his daughter seemed 
to be looking at each other. They formed a somewhat 
curious contrast, for Alice Deringham appeared taller and 
more stately than she was in her costly furs, and Nellie 
Townshead very slight and almost shabby in her thin and 
well-worn dress. Neither spoke for a moment, but tlie 
half-amiable condescension in Miss Deringham's attitude 
was a trifle too marked. 

" I am afraid that is all we can tell you," she said. " Mr. 
Alton has evidently met with a serious accident, and we 

224 



MISS DERINGHAxM DECIDES 

are^^oing up at once to Somasco to see what we can do for 

She*hT''^H '"°^'r ? ""."'^ ="'' &'^""d at his daughter 
bhe had said very httle, hut there was a subtle someth na 

TJrYJT '"^ ^'r'"^ ^^'"'^'^ ""P'i«' => good de™d he 
fancied .t was not lost upon Miss Townshcad. 

Ihe latter however, glanced round towards her em- 
ployer and her face was once more expressionles as she 
sa d, Then I hope you will find him progressing favour- 
ably, and .t would be a kindness to my father and myself 
If you or Mr. Seaforth would send us word " ^ 

little a,ThI',^''"^'° '"' ''i"'""' ='"'' Deringham smiled a 
little as the monotonous voice commenced again " That's 
aU nght, M,ss Townshead. Now where was I ? Oh ves 
Zlht r', T'^""™'^."'' ^">- f"^t'"--r advances. Did f 
tell h,m we had to negotiate Tyrer's bond at a discount?" 

suddenlv "hZv, ^-T u'T"""'' >°"'' '"^^i^i"" -'somewhat 
suddenly, he sa d. I had not noticed it before but Miss 
Townshead is distinctly pretty. She was, I believe on 
tolerably good terms with our afflicted kinsman." 
Miss Deringham laughed as she answered him. " That is 

oaggage. I think I hear the train coming in " 
M, JT^,'' ^ """"i^t as she went out of the saloon and 
ganced back towards the table. She could only see that 
Miss Townshead's head was bent lower over the paper than 

ieuL^'n *"" 'Y '^''' =", ^"'P'<^''"" '' '° what th'^^rl was 
fi.H f • i n?' i''° P^"""-^' b"t not more than partly ilti- 
then Z^f"" Townshead was writing mechaniraV u t 

hen. though now and then she drove the pencil somewhat 
viciously into the paper when the hasty wo'^ds gr rfalte, 

Don t consider your recommendation workable We 
are sending you ore to test. Finish it up in the usual 

the^roar'ol- 'ZT'^' '?'" T- 'l'^ ^^''^^^^ ^^«' ^n^^^^^d by 
hi paoers 'llVf ^"^.^ ^ ^^'^'-'^f'^. ^nd the man folded up 
IS papers. You will have to get ashore, but we have 
lone a good morning's work," said he. " ThoTe were 
triends of yours from the old countrv? " 

^0, said Nellie Townshead with a curious expression. 

225 







I 


' 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 





" They are from the old country, but I only met them once 
or twice at Somasco." 

The man glanced at her thoughtfully. " Yes," he said. 
" I kind of fancied the lady didn^ mean to be nice to you." 

Miss Townshead smiled, though there was an ominous 
brightness in her eyes. " I scarcely tha.k she would take 
the trouble to make me feel that," she said. " Miss 
Deringham is, I understand, a lady of some importance in 
the old country." 

The man once more regarded her with grave kindliness. 
" Folks of that kind can be very nasty prettily. I've met 
one or two of them. Well, you're one of the smartest 
business ladies I've come across yet in this country, and I 
should figure that's quite as good as the other. Now — 
well, of course, we held back a little when we engaged you, 
and you can tell the cashier to hand you out another two 
dollars every Saturday." 

Nellie Townshead felt that the colour was in her cheeks, 
but she thanked the man, and gathering up her papers 
hastened down the gangway at the last moment. She 
stopped a moment breathless when she reached the wharf 
and saw Deringham and his daughter drive away, and shut 
one little hand. Then she laughed, and turned t' . ards 
the city with a gesture of impatience. " The two liars 
are badly needed — and I'm a little fool, but it hun, all of 
it," she said. 



226 



CHAPTER XXIII 

THE AWAKENING 

The snow had ceased an hour or two earlier and the 
moon shone down upon the glistening pines tlltshcwk off 

he.r white covering under t bitter wind when a wagon 
came lurching mto the Somasco valley. Four wearv 

rorthemlnta^i" '™"* °* '''■ = "^i" wh'ite 'steam ri "^ 
hT=<,.» ^^l "'?P'"*? ="■• 3"^ Okanagan swayed 

tha?he cTuW do sat ,.-Ien fvf-^^ l^'" '^^'^ ^^' "°thing 
while with IL« ^"* '^'"'^ •!"" smoking tranquilly 

S^2^~ ^^^^ ?or,td"U1not% 

Obnai^n r^°" ''^V*' '^"" ='"'' '^^"v^ -'"to a hemlock 

^rv to^-ft'wT''"'^l''' *"^ *°"^'' 't had been nfces: 

to !,ft her down when tw.ce they stopped to change 

227 



I i 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

the team at a lonely ranch, she rose smiling with blue lips 
when it was time to f;o on aj^ain. 

" Vcs. sir," he afterwards said to Seaforth, " there wasn't 
any weakening down in either of them, and the girl's a 
daisy." 

Dcringham, however, was now sitting amidst the straw 
in the bottom of the wagon, with h- arm about his daugh- 
ter, who nestled close to him for the sake of warmth. A 
bitter frost had set in cliriiig the last hour or so, and the 
snow was frozen in whi;" patches upon her wrappings, while 
it was with numbed senses she vacantly watched the pines 
Hit past her. It seemed that they would crawl up out of the 
darkness and slide by, white beneath the moonlight, for- 
ever. 

Nor could she recollect much of the journey, which had 
on'^ left a hazy memory of biting cold and blinding snow, 
Sercc struggles through the drifts, and brief interludes of 
warmth and brightness in forest-shrouded ranches, where 
her chilled flesh shrank from the task before her when she 
rose to go on again. There was Alton blood in Alice 
Deringham, and more than a trace of the .Mton pride, but 
she did not know what motive had sustained her or why 
she had borne it all so patiently, and in this she differed 
from her father. Deringham seldom did anything without 
a purpose, and he had one now. 

His daughter had been asleep with her head on his 
shoulder when a shout roused her two hours earlier, .ind 
with a drumming of hoofs they caine lurching into the 
settlement. For a blissful moment she fancied the journe} 
was at an end, for there were lights and voices and a 
pleasant smell of firwood smoke, but Okanagan shouted tn 
his team, and the lights faded away behind as they plunged 
into the silence beneath the pines again. 

" Father," she said faintly, " do you think he has trnne 
the wrong way? It seems ever so long since we left the 
settlement." 

Okanagan may have heard her, though the words were 
almost indistinguishable. " You lie right where you are 
for another ten minutes, and keep warm, miss," he said; 
" then I'll show you .something." 

228 



}i>! 



THE AWAKENING 

(Jkanapati s|K)kc to his liorscs. and after what annnir,.,! 

an .nter,„inablc ti.no lo„ke<l down al'afn ' f^'"'"' 

1 here, he said with a -.irious, ahnost silent laiich and 

•teir^Lra^-"""" ''"'^-'^^ ""^ ""- --- '"-alS 

.h™,'lT "'^^!'.'"K''=^'." ,'«' her head drop back on her father's 
shoulder with a little sigh. '• It seems a very lone wav " 
she said, " and I am very cold " ^ ^' 

It was some time later when the wagon stopped with a 
jerk, and she ro.ised herself as a glare of light shone about 
her Voices came out of it. somebo<|y held out a hand 

vaton"'Th:n'':h '''" t' T' ■■«'«-"■ "f-I her from the 
wagon. Then she walked unevenly into the brightness of 
a log-walled ha 1 and grew faint, while a tingling pain ran 
through her with the change r,f temperature. A woman 
whom she did not know clumsily took'^^,er wrappfngrfZ 
her. and then led her into a room where .Scaforth drew a 
chair up to a table beside the stove. .-Mice Der ngham's 
haggaTd' "^' •""' '^' ""''■ ^'^'^ "'«' he wis whheTnd 

" How is he? '• she said, and tiie tingling pain grew more 
pronounced as she waited the answer 
Po u^fh*"?'" ^^u «'.f J"y Prave. " f think it is touch and 
thrr,?,^h '"tT"''"' '^ ''" ^^="■;' 'he night out he may pull 
through. It was very good of vou to come." ' 

■• f'^ ;?h ^^^'"Sham made a little gesture of impatience. 

and strained" '' '"'''' ""'' '""" ''°'" "^' ""''y '°"' 

Scaforth glanced round sharply as the woman, knocking 
over something, went out of the room. 

A little, I believe, if he could sleep," he said huskilv. 

lie doctor is with him now— scarcely left him the last 

lonr days. We have nobody to help u.s. Mrs. Margerv 

broke down. The woman ynu saw is incapable. Harry 

nas been delinous-and asking for you-half the time." 

•■^eatorth looked at his companion as he spoke, and the 

but fl'rl ^"f '^"■f "-'■• ''■''^'■^ '"^^ "° '■<»"' for anything 
out frankness at such a time. 

229 



i 



Fl 



:'S 




Al 




ALTON OF SOMASCO 

" Ah," she said simply. " I am glad I came." 

Seaforth's eyes seemed to grow a little misty, and Alice 
Deringham, who suddenly looked aside, wondered whether 
it was only the effect of weariness. Whatever he felt, he, 
however, quietly poured something into a cup and handed it 
to her. " But you must eat," he said. 

Hungry and cold as she had been, the girl could eat but 
little, though the steaming liquid in the cup put a little 
life into her, and presently she rose up and shook off the 
coarse shawl which somebody had wrapped about her 
shoulders. 

" I am ready now," she said. 

Seaforth glanced at her a moment with open admiration. 
The girl to hide her weariness stood very straight, and Alice 
Deringham knew how to hold herself. The pallor in her 
face intensified the little glow in her eyes and the ruddy 
gleam of her lustrous hair under the lamplight. She was, 
it seemed to him, almost splendid in her statuesque sym- 
metry, but there was also a subtle change in her, and a sud- 
den sense of confusion came upon him. He remembered 
his previous distrust of her, and that it was to save his 
comrade she had come. 

" No," he said quietly ; " you must rest and sleep before 
you go to him." 

Alice Deringham smiled a little, but there was a vibration 
in her voice that stirred the man. " Do you think I 
could ? " 

This time there was no mistaking the faint haziness in 
Seaforth's eyes. " God bless you," he said simply. " He 
is my friend — and I think you are the only one who can do 
anytliing for him." 

Alice Deringham had in her a trace of greatness which 
was instinctive, and not the result of the training tliat 
had taught her serenity. So, though the man had not 
hidden his meaning, she made no protest nor asked am 
question. 

" All this is new to me," she said ; " but I will do the best 
I can." 

Seaforth led her into a room where a dim light was 
burning. It was most of it in shadow, but she could see 

230 



THE AWAKENING 

very IMe of su^ffenng Xa^tUt^d^: X^o"] i^tnlT 

1^1- ^ I ^"^ "°' '^°^^' •>"' Stood stoopine a little a,^" 

f A^tn^' "^ ^'- ^^^^°''"' ^"'J I have reached our iS 
h m 1, H '""L'"' T'- '^* '^''" ^«« y°". and you ^^Ig ve 
iml * ''"•^HSrht yonder in an hour from now. It is of vt^\ 

ZIT:,^^' '^ ^''°""' ^'"^^ ■'■ " '^^ does not"tap on Ihe 

Alice DerinRham bent her head again and when thp 



. f„. ,""' "■'" -:":.iiorin, sat down t 

tatigue had gone from her, and though 



she had never 



231 



> I 



m; 



lH'i I'l! 




m 






nit 






ALTON OF SOMASCO 

done such things before, she gently drew the coverings 
higher about the man, and once ventured to raise his head 
a trifle and smooth down the pillow. Alton opened his 
eyes, and for a moment they seemed to follow her, but the 
gleam of understanding went out of them wlien she sat 
down again. Then he lay very still, and there was an op- 
pressive quietness through which she could hear the crackle 
of the stove and the night wind moaning about the ranch. 
Alton's eyes were shut now, and the girl sat and watched 
him, too intent almost to wonder at herself. This was the 
man she had striven to despise, and yet she. who had never 
concerned herself with woman's work before, forgot her 
weariness as she waited to minister to him. It was but 
little help that she could oflfer — a gentle touch that checked 
a restless movement, a wrinkle smoothed from the pillow — 
but it was done with a great tenderness, for fibres in the 
girl's nature that had lain silent long awoke that night and 
thrilled. 

Now and then Alton moved a little, and once or twice 
he moaned. The firewood snapped and crackled in the 
stove, the sigh of the pines came up in fantastic cadence 
across the clearing, and so while the dark angel stooped 
above the lonely ranch the night wore on. 

There was, however, one man in Somasco ranch who 
needed sleep that night and found it fly from him. Derinfj- 
ham, who had spoken with the doctor, lay fully dressed in 
an adjoining room, listening to the ticking of his watch, 
and for any sound that might rise from beyond the cedar 
boarding where his daughter kept her vigil. He had 
gathered that before the morning Alton of Somasco and 
Carnaby would either have laid aside his activities for ever 
or be within hope of recovery, and while Deringham dare 
not ask himself just then whether he desired the death of 
his kinsman, th'j suspense was maddening. If the flame of 
vitality that was flickering so feebly went out Carnabv 
would be his daughter's, and the burden which almost 
crushed him lifted. If it burned on there was at the best .1 
long struggle with adversity before him, and at the worst 
disgrace, and possibly a prison. 

A very little thing, he knew, would turn the scale, an 

232 



THE AWAKENING 

nn°Z'?^^ in delirium, a draught that struck too shrewdly 
on the fevered frame, and the issue, of stupen<lous immrt^ 

leaforth and'th° 'f "l "' *^'"' l''^ '" "^'^ -laushter-s 3d . 
Seatorth and the doctor slept the sleep of exhaustion anH 

Denngham could have laughed with bUte mirth essne^s at 
the irony of .t all Until she had quarrelled with her r^aid 
™ her o'""^''"" ^^"^ apparently fieen incapable of puTttng 
on her own dresses unassisted, and it seemed that the grim 
mysterious destmy which treated men as puppets^and 
traversed all their schemes was the one factor to reckon 
w.th m that comedy. Deringham, however, found IMe 
olace in such reflections, and could not lie sti 1, and ri ng- 
nramed h,s ears to listen. There was noth ng but "he 
s™nrl'"^f u- ""' u'"^' "^^ """'^^ ^^^ ^e^y ^ti" and he 
n^now n' ^'V''' ^'r "'^ddening. If Alton ;as sleep! 
^^d fam? aT/"; ''"''" " was ticking his last hold on 
good tame and fortune away. Twice he paced up and 
down the room with uncovered feet, and then, quiveHng a 

no;^r;i;s,^i^,:L;'^i^if °-" "'^ *^ -^-^ 

n,,;.?"^'^' *r^ ^^'^ ^'"'°^* ^"''■n'y. and then moved very 

ipc:^lr.i\Kf °^^'"^''^'" ^^"^^ - -'i --^ 

The great question is still unanswered?" he said 

steadilv "^T fv ^"' ^^u ,^?'^' ^"'^ *^" '""'^^d at' him 

steadily. I think we shall know in an hour or two Is 

It important to you?" "■ iwu. is 

Deringham, who was not wholly master of himself, made 

a curfn,fJ''7-\-^"'^ "?? §'"■' ^'^""'' ^w^y ^'°"' W-^ with 
a curious shrinking Under stress of fatigue and anxiety 

l^Xu A ^^" ""^ 'P'"' '" '^°""'' ni°''t 'oosely to the clay. 
othPr'c • '^^" something not hitherto suspected of the 
plin ul fTV:l\ ^" '^^ ^"1'' "'''' '^' ^'Sht had been 
fu tth;n T n*?* was good in her had risen uppermost 
,nH ! P Deringham's there was very little but veneer, 

and craven fear and avarice looked out through his eves. 
j;es, he said in a voice that was the harsher for its 

233 



< ii 



I . I 



'Ilia 



p ill 



I V'l, 



li'l 






ALTON OF SOMASCO 

lowness ; " and to you. I did not tell you, but if that man 
dies you will be the mistress of Camaby." \ 

Alice Dcringham made a little halt-contemptuous ges- 
ture of impatience, but the colour showed in her cheek. 
" You are over-tired, father, or you would not have thought 
of that — just now." 

Deringham glanced at her curiously with an unpleasant 
smile. " You apparently did not comprehend me," he said. 
" Would you be astonished to hear that Alton, who seems 
to have anticipated disaster, left you Camaby by will ? " 

The girl rose and met the man's gaze directly, though 
the colour had crept beyond her cheeks now. " No," she 
said very quietly ; " though I never thought of this. I 
know him better than ever you could do. But it is time I 
gave him the medicine, and you must go." 

Deringham did not move, but watched his daughter as 
she took up the glass and phial. " It is important that he 
should have the draught? " he said. 

" Yes," she said in a voice that thrilled a little as she 
stood very straight before him. " I think it would make 
all the difference between — a girl without a dowry, and the 
mistress of Camaby." 

Then she pointed as it were commandingly towards the 
door, and Deringham went out with a white face, as though 
she had struck him upon it, while Alice Deringham shivered 
and sank down limply into the chair. She sat still for a 
moment with eyes that shone mistily and a great sense of 
humility, and then, rousing herself with an effort, moviil 
towards the bed and touched the sick man gently. He 
opened his eyes as she did so, and there was no glitter in 
them now, but a dawning comprehension. He seemed to 
smile a little when she raised his head. 

" You must drink this," she said. 

Alton made a gesture of understanding, and drained the 
glass, then let his head fall back, and feebly stretched out 
his hand until it touched her fingers. The girl did not 
move, and his grasp tightened suddenly. 

" Hold me fast. I am slipping — slipping down," he said. 

Alice Deringham returned the pressure of the clinging 
fingers, and as she saw a curious unreasoning confidence 

234 



THE AWAKENING 

fhroLh"'," *''!. *'?^g^"'. face her eyes once more shone 

•'i'i^'^!''i' f^''' "l^.s'ck man in a strained voice "You 

da l"hllo' ^°T. ^' N""^. ^""'^'"^ f«t '° the riveVin the 
dark Mow. Im shppmg, slipping-no holding in the 

W Sngj^, that dre» her h.nd to W. braj" Thm S„^S 
f/rthiTrL" T? "" """"•'•"•Me .J. be" .TS 

^^"p-bS're.irjs :s. .^&t/s- 

cLn^'fn ^ 1^ face was tranquil, but the hot fingers still 

erew cod but whL th"^ • P^^.'°"der and the room 

thatfilled'whh tend'" ''"^^ ""'^''^'^ '"™ -'»'' "^^^ 

eye^s'Lt'h'L'v "whi^°'' "''"• " ^"'"^"^ ^"d ^' la^t the 
/" grew nazy, while every jomt ached. There was a 

235 



i, 

lij 









n 


'PI 




mr 


l^'( 




^■i'A 


Biji 


H- 


^K^ -'(I ii 


^^1 


^ 





ALTON OF SOMASCO 

horrible cramp in her shoulder, and to lessen it she moved 
a trifle so that her arm rested on the pillow. That was 
easier, and while she struggled with her weariness her head 
followed it, until it sank down close by Alton's shoulder. 
Then for fi/e minutes she fought with her weakness, and 
was vanquished, for her head settled lower into its resting- 
place, and her eyes closed. 

It was some little time later when Seaforth came very 
softly into the room, and stopped with a little gasp. He 
could just see his comrade's face, and it was still and serene, 
but there was a gleam of red-gold hair beside it on the 
coverlet, and now a shapely arm was flung protectingly 
about the sick man's shoulder. The girl was also very still, 
and a little flush of colour crept into Seaforth's face as he 
stooped above her and saw the clasped hands. 

" Thank God ! " he said. 

Then he moved backwards on tiptoe towards Dering- 
ham's room, but apparently changed his intention, and pres- 
ently knocked at the doctor's door. 

" Time's up, and I thought I'd better rouse you," he said. 
" Shall I go in, and look at your patient ? " 

The doctor rose up fully dressed, and Seaforth, who 
watched him enter the other room, nodded to himself, while 
the man he had left stooped above the sleeping pair and 
smiled with a great contentment. He had done what he 
could, but he knew that a greater power than any he 
wielded had driven back the dark angel which had stooped 
above the sick man's bed. 

The sun was in the Heavens when, finding other pro- 
cedure unavailing, he gently touched the girl, and Alice 
Deringham rose silently and turned to him some moments 
later almost proudly with a soft glow in her cheeks, and a 
question in her eyes. 

" Yes," said the doctor, smiling. " I fancy we have seen 
the worst." 

Then the girl's strength went from her, and she caught 
at the rail of the bed, shivering, until the man touched her 
arm and led her from the room. " You have done a great 
deal, I think, and must sleep," he said. 

It was afternoon when Alice Deringham resumed her 

236 



THE AWAKENING 

watch, and she met Seaforth on her way to the sick man's 

"I want to thank you, Miss Derintrham Hp u m„ 
^uTr^^sr' ^'"^ °"'^ *"^"' ' '^'^^'" he sJd": wit"\':,ig"h^ 

The girl regarded him steadily. " You mean it? " 

Seafortli wmced a little. " Yes," he said 

Ahce Dermgham still fixed her eyes upon him " AnH 
yet you distrusted me once?" upon mm. And 

Seaforth's face was haggard, but it was less pale than it 
had been when he bent his head. " I can on v thro' 
myself on your mercy. I was more of a fool tha'n usua" 

nn^Hi" Deringham laughed softly but graciously. " I could 

Thin'"fh^°"~":]''-^°" l""y ''^^^ ^^" right,-^she said 
■ .T, ^^f P^*'*'' '"'° *e room, and saw the lieht creen 
mto Alton's eyes, which had apparently been fixed uSn 

was'e'denf thaf °^f"^!^^ ^"'i^^^ "^'"^ ^-- S foH 
mem>"ed a littlL"'"' '" "'"'' ^^^ "^^' ^' '-' "e re- 
river is farther 



he said. 



away now, but I want you still,' 



f(i 



337 







|i 




CHAPTER XXIV 

HALLAM TRIES AGAIN 

There was frost in the valley when one clear morning 
Alton lay partly dressed in a big chair beside the stove at 
Somasco ranch. Outside the snow lay white on the clear- 
ing, and the great pines rose above it sombre ard motionless 
under the sunlight that had no warmth in it, while the 
peaks beyond them shone with a silvery lustre against the 
cloudless blue. It was a day to set the blood stirring and 
rouse the vigour of the strong, and Alton felt the effect of 
It as he lay listening to the rhythmic humming of the saws. 
The sound spoke of activity, and raising himself a trifle in 
his chair he glanced at his partner with a faint sparkle in 
his eye. 

" It's good to feel alive again," he said. 

Seaforth's smile was somewhat forced, for he had reason 
for dreading the moment when his comrade would take an 
inf'-st in the affairs of life again. There was something 
that Alton must know, and glancing at his hollow face he 
shrank from telling him. 

The struggle had been a long one, for fever had once 
more seized Alton when he was apparently on the way to 
recovery, and there had been times when it seemed to 
Seaforth that two angels kept the long night watches with 
him beside his comrade's bed. One was terrible and shad- 
owy, and stooped lower and lower and above the scarr-'v 
breathing form; the other bright and beautiful, an a. 
of tenderness and mercy, and if Seaforth was fanciful thi 
were excuses fo- him. His endurance had been strained 
to the uttermost as day and night he kept his vigil, while 
the humanity of the girl who watched with him had be 
come etherealized until her beauty was almost spiritual. 
The coldness had gone out of it, and now and then it 

338 



HALLAM TRIES AGAIN 

t?l'!'*l'<I'*^ "'?':"Tt '"^" "•*' = faint reflection of a 
light that IS not kindled in this world shone through the 

?nH '<? f'Ji^'^u^^^'P"^ *" "" 'hat had been lacking, 
and Seaforth, who had doubted, bent his head in homale 
when It came, for it appeared to him that in slouehine oflf 
her pride and becoming wholly womanly the girl had 
reached out m her gentleness and compassion towards the 
divine, \yhen at last the turning had been passed, and 
Alice Deringham went down with her father for a brief 
rest to Vancouver, she took Seaforth's limitless respect and 
gratitude with her, though it occurred to him that she had 
gone somewhat suddenly as though anxious to escape from 
the ranch. They were, however, to return that evening. 
I talked a good deal, Charley, when I was sick?" said 

Seaforth smiled dryly. "There is no use in denying it. 
because you did, he said. 

,• '^l'?u'* face grew clouded. " I'd have bitten my tongue 
right through if I d known. There were one or two things 
I d been through that would come back to me, things one 
would sooner forget." * 

Seaforth appeared thoughtful, but evidently decided that 
frankness was best. " There certainly were occasions when 
your recollections were somewhat realistic." 
" T^^'^j" «f!;°a"«'l' and his face was a study of consternation. 
Lord, what brutes we are," he said. "There was the 
trouble over the Bluebird claim down in Washington. Did 
i talk about that? 

Seaforth crossed over and sat down on the arm of his 
comrade s chair. His expression was somewhat whimsical, 
Dut there was a suggestion of tenderness in his eyes, for 
ne saw the direction in which Alton's thoughts were tend- 
ing, and that he should speak of such matters to him 
Betokened the closeness of the bond between them 

I don t think you need worry about it, Harry," he said 
„,„ u°ri ^"!. A"°n sternly. " Are those the things you 
«oud like a dainty English lady who knows nothing of 
what we have to do now and then to hear' " 
struck ml o"""^'' again as he said, "Miss Deringham 
struck me as an especially sensible young woman. Now 

239 



M 



I I 



^■:i 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

you need not pet savage, fo- I am speaking respectfully, 
but I fancy that Miss Derincham knows almost as much 
about the ins and outs of life as many bush ranchers of 
seventy. Young women brought up as she has been in the 
old country not infrequently do, and as it happened you 
mentioned nothing about that last aflfair in the bush ; while 
though one or two incidents were somewhat startling, there 
are, 1 fancy, girls in the old country who would be rather 
inclined to look with approval on — the type of man she 
might have reason for supposing you to lie. In any case, 
there was no word of any other woman." 

Alton drew in his breath. " No," he said simply. " Thank 
God, there never was another." 

Seaforth's expression perplexed his comrade, and his 
voice was a trifle strained. " Yes," he said. " That is a 
good deal to be thankful for, Harry." 

Alton looked at him thoughtfully in silence for a space. 
Then he said, " I never asked you any questions about the 
old country, Charley, and I don't mean to now, but I have 
fancied now and then that you brought out some trouble 
along with you." 

Seaforth glanced down at his comrade, smiling curiously. 
" I may tell you some time — but not now. You do well 
to be thankful, Harry, and do you believe that any woman 
would think the worse of you because you cut down th< 
man who meant to take your life, you big, great-natured 
fool ? " 

Alton sighed. "Well," he said very slowly, "perhaps 
it is better over, because that and other things would have 
to be told; but though I had only an axe against his pistol 
I can't get that man's face out of my memory." 

Seaforth's face was somewhat awry just then. " You can 
tell your story without a blush — if you think it necessary, 
but I have not the courage to tell mine — ^and the silence 
may cost me very dear," he said. 

Alton seemed a trifle bewildered. " When you can I'll 
listen, but there's nothing you could tell me would make 
any difTerence between you and me." 

Seaforth laughed mirthlesslv. " I'm glad of that, but it 
wasn't you I was thinking of just then,'*^he said. " Still it 

240 



HALLAM TRIES AGAIN 

seems to me that we arc both a little off our hai,„-.. .1 • 
."orning. and n.ay be sorry for it afterwards " '"" "'" 
Alton rose up and moved somewhat stiffly towards the 
window, where he eaned against the log casing I«>ki^ 
out greedily upon the sunlit valley Then hi mnJ,l K u 
to the table and rested both hands upir,;! ^'^ ^'^ 
1 figure It's because I haven't used it. but this lee doesn't 
feel the same as it used to, " he said " Did it Vtwt 
that I walked kind of stiffly? " ""^ " '*"*"= >°" 

hJ'fuT^' ^"^'"^ "'•'" "'* nioment he feared ha.I come but 
was not watching you, he said. 

Alton, who appeared a trifle perturbed, sat down and 

glanced at the partly finished meal u,x.n the tabfe dSed"y 

Tell them to take those things awav. and bring ,^ some- 

StXh"esThrv'e"^"=" ' ^^"' ■"> -^ ^- -d '"e 

ou: Io;Ulhene':k,Tnvw"ay '•^° ^"^ ^°"''« "°' «°'"^ 

Alton laughed a little. " Well," he said, " we'll see Brinir 

me^a _good solid piece of venison, and 'take those thCigf 

He made an ample meal, dressed Mmself with wholly 
unusual fastidiousness, and when Seaforth lefrhim for a 
few moments strode out of the room. One leg felt ver? 
stiff and he clutched the balustrade a moment when h^ 
came to the head of a short stairway, then stiffened himself 
and putting all the weight he could on the limb thrwas 
iZi k'' "'• ff''?^'' ^°™="'^' «s°l"tely to descend it. His 
knee bent sudden y under him, he clutched at the rails, and 

cra'ht S™i '^t'"" ""'• '°'' ^'' '''■''^"^^' ^"'^ 'here v^as a 
to't hi,^;±''5 'P-'^"^ 2"* °f ^'' ^"O"^- He was in time 
to see his comrade rise and lean against the logs at the foot 

a little fr^'^ ^''': ^'^''^ ""'l S"-™ '" f^=^. «nd shivered 
•i mtie as he went down. 

in w'"'" "'^ .waning of this, Charley? " said Alton with 
?^t~d"dorr:rme"' ^"^' P"' ""^ ^^'^"^ °" -y '^f' 

nofe/^':^i;^:^^r:!^r:!;t;5?"— -'^ 

241 



!|i| 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



I'- 1 



"i- I 






" Pshaw ! " said Alton with sudden fierceness. " There is 
more than that." 

Seaforth laid his hand compassionately upon his com- 
rade's shoulder. " It had to come sooner or later — and I 
was afraid to tell you before. You will never walk quite 
as well as you used to, Harry." 

Alton clutched the balustrade, and a gfreyness crept into 
his face. " I," he said very slowly, " a cripple — all my 
life!" 

Seaforth said nothing, and there was a silence for almost 
a minute until Alton slowly straightened himself. " Well," 
he said quietly, " there is no use kicking — but this was to 
have been the best day of my life." 

Seaforth understood him and saw his opportunity. " I 
don't think that will make any difference, Harry." 

Alton seemed to choke down a groan. " I had so little 
before," he .said. 

Again Seaforth laid his hand upon his shoulder. " Shake 
yourself together, Harry. After all, I don't think it is the 
things that one can offer which counts" he said. " Let mc 
help you back." 

Alton resolutely shook off his grasp, and moved very 
slowly and stiffly towards the living-room. " No," he said. 
" I'm not going back there any more. Get me a big black 
cigar, Charley — and then go right away." 

Seaforth did as he was bidden, for there were many things 
which demanded his attention, but he glanced at his com- 
rade as he went out, and the sight of the gaunt figure sit- 
ting very grim and straight in a chair by the window would 
return long afterwards to his memory. 

" He takes it badly — and a little while ago I should have 
thought he was right," he said. 

It was several hours later when Seaforth returned to the 
house, and found Mrs. Margery in a state of con- 
sternation. 

" Where's Harry? " he said. 

" 'Way down to the settlement," said the woman. " Okan- 
agan was fool enough to hoist him on a horse, and though 
I talked half-an-hour .solid I couldn't stop him." 

Seaforth smiled dryly. " I scarcely think you could. 

242 



HALLAM TRIES AGAIN 

-, Jwr-*"*"^^'?""^ ?J ''''" contemptuously. "All men 
are fools, said she. " He went to meet that Rirl from^he 
old country, and find out his mistake " 

Seaforth said nothing, but went out m iiaste and saddled 
a horse, for although it had been .ipparent to him tha 

Sneasiness.''"^"^' "" "°^''' ■'^'" '^'^ •'™ -'^ « 'S 
In the meantime Alton dropped ver-.' - tifflv f...m t»ic sad- 
dle m front of Horton's hotel, .uM, linipip, m, li,.. airwav 
found the man who kept it upon ti.. ;.,a:,dah ''■"'"'^y- 
i^i,- '° *■:« yo" coming ro.in,I, M.mv; but youVe 

lookmg very white, and walking kind of .s.ilT." he Jd 

thatwa;airmyHfc°" '''''■ "' '''='" ^^"'''''^'^ ^''^ i-' 

AlJ^n*^*"? ""m* "o,?"c"\Pt 'o condole with Kim. He knew 
Alton tolerably well, and felt that any sympa hy he could 
offer would be madequate. " Well," he said, " h.r^e" a ett ? 
Thomson brought you in from the railroad " 
Alton tore open the envelope, and read the message with 

afc r oft •• ^"" " ^'L^'""' Deringham, and stated tl,.nt an 
affair of business would prevent him returning to Somasco 
for some httle time. Then he remembered That to May 

suspense"" ""'' "^^^^ ^°"^^ **"' P'°'""e the 

"I'm going through to the railroad, but the ride ha<! 
■*?.'^^" ITf,' ^".^, Ii> '■■- down and sleep a while," he Ul 
?nn„ ' '^"' Worton, you know best, but you look a 
Xi:!!.r ^ul ^ ""'"if .beside the stove up There 
had? " '^'" * tolerably bad accident you 

Alton glanced at him sharply, but his voice was in- 
fn^r". h' ^^ ""JT"'"''- " O*^' y^'- ^ came to grief b ing- 
hev found' mf^'w^ °"* '" 'l'J'°'' ^ ^°°d while befofe 
here?" ^ me. Have you had many strangers round 

for"t^w" ■''^f''- !i '^^^ ^"'''. '^ J"'* ^"" °f them-looking 
lor timber rights and prospecting round the Crown lands- 

a43 






ALTON OF SOMASCO 

Hallam's friends, I think. There was one of them seemed 
kind of anxious about you lately." 

Alton's eyes grew a trifle keener, but he was shaken and 
weary, and made a little gesture which seemed to indicate 
that he would ask questions later. 

" You'll give the horse a light feed, and let me know 
when supper's on," he said. 

It was dark when he mounted with Horton's assistance, 
and the horse plunged once or twice. Then it started at 
a gallop, and Alton had some difficulty in pulling it up, 
for the snow was beaten down and tlie trail was good. 
He had not been gone half-an-hour when Seaforth, whose 
horse was smoking, swung himself down before the hotel. 

" Where's Harry? " he said. 

" On the trail," said Horton. " I wanted to keep him. 
but he lit out a little while ago, and borrowed a rifle. What 
he wanted it for I don't know, but he wouldn't be lonely, 
anyway. One of the boys who was staying here pulled out 
for the railroad just before him." 

" Did you know the man? " aske'' "=aforth with unusual 
sharpness. 

" No," said Horton. " He was timber-righting, but I'd 
a kind of fancy I'd once seen somebody very like him work- 
ing round Soniasco." 

Seaforth said nothing further, but swung himself intn 
the saddle and rode off at a gallop. He had been unsetlkd 
all day, and now it was with vague apprehensions he scTit 
his heels home and shook the bridle. 

In the meantime Alton was riding almost as fast, though 
the saddle galled him and he was stiff and aching. Ili< 
senses also grew a trifle lethargic under the frost, but he 
knew there would be little rest for him until he rearlnil 
Vancouver, and strove to shake off his weakness. The 
horse was, however, unusually restive, and would at tinu'* 
break into a gallop in spite of him where the trail wa? 
level, but ."Mton, who fancied there was something trotibluii; 
the beast, was more than a little dubious of his abilil> I" 
mount again if he got out of the saddle. Until that day he 
had not ventured outside the ranch. 

The shadowy pines flitted by him, here and there the 

244 



HALLAM TRIES AGAIN 

moon shone down, and the drumming of hoofs rang muffled 
by the snow through a great silence which was curiously 
emphasized when twice a wolf howled. Still, pluncine 
and snortmg now and then, the beast held pluckily on 
while the miles melted behind them, and midnight was 
past when Alton, turning, half-asleep, in his saddle, fancied 
he heard somebody riding behind him. For a moment his 
fingers tightened on the bridle, but his hearing was dulled 
by weakness and the numbing cold, and pressing his heels 
nome he rode on into the darkness. 

It would probably have occurred to him at any other 
time that the beast responded with suspicious readiness 
but his perceptions were not of the clearest just then, which 
was unfortunate, because the trail led downwards steeply 
through black darkness along the edge of a ravine The 
ram had also washed parts of it awav, and no rav of moon- 
hght pierced the vaulted roof of cedar-sprays. The drum- 
ming of hoofs rolled along it, there was a hoarse growling 
far down m the darkness below, and .Mton strove to rouse 
himself, knowing that a stumble might result in a plunge 
down the declivity. He could dimly see the great trunks 
stream past him on the one hand, but there was only a eulf 
of shadow on the other. 

Suddenly a flash of light sprang up almost under the 
horse s feet The beast flung its head up, and next moment 
tliey were flying at a gallop down the winding and almost 
precipitous trail. Alton's strength had not returned to him 
and he set his lips, realizing the uselessness of it as he 
shifted h's numbed hands on the bridle. Twice the horse 
stumbled, but picked up its stride again, and the man had 
almost commenced to hope they might reach the foot of the 
iltclivity when it stumbled once more, struck a young fir, 
and reeled downwards from the trail. 

It all happened in a moment, but there was just time 
enough for Alton to clear his feet from his stirrups, and 
t |Oiigh he was never quite sure what next lie did he found 
himself sitting in the snow, .shaken and dazed by his fall 
while the horse rolled downwards through the shadow.s 
t>encath him. He heard the brushwnnfl crackle, and then 
a curiously sickening thud as though something soft had 

245 



1! 



il 



.^1 



i!li. 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

fallen from a. height upon a rock. After that there was an 
oppressive silence save for a faint drumming that grew 
louder down the trail. 

Alton unslung the rifle which still hung behind him, and 
crawled behind a big hemlock that grew out of the slope. 
He could hear nothing but the increasing thud of hoofs 
for a while, and then there was a sound that suggested 
stealthy footsteps in the darkness up the trail. Alton 
crouched very still and waited, but the footsteps came no 
nearer, and then pitching up the rifle fired in their direction 
at a venture. The sound ceased suddenly, and while the 
great trunks flung back the concussion it was evident that 
the rider was coming on at a furious gallop, and Alton 
rising sent out a hoarse cry, " Pull him before you come to 
the edge of the dip ! " 

The beat of hoofs sank into silence, and a shout came 
down. " Hallo. Is that you, Harry ? " 

" Yes," said Alton. " Lead your beast down." 

It was five minutes later when Seaforth found him leaniiif; 
against a tree with the rifle in his hand. 

" What was the shooting for, and where 's your horse?" 
said he. 

Alton appeared to laugh softly and venomously, and liis 
voice jarred upon the listener. " Down there, and stone 
dead. The last drop's most of a hundred feet," he said. 

" But how did he get there? " and Seaforth felt a little 
chill strike through him. 

Alton grasped his arm, and his voice was harsher still, 
" This is the second time." 

" Good Lord ! " said Seaforth, who understood him, 
huskily. 

" Well," said Alton, " I think the thing's quite plain. If 
we could get down to the poor beast I figure we'd find 
something that had no business there under the girth or 
saddle. "The rest is simpler — a little coal oil or giant povviler. 
and — just at the turning yonder — a lariat across the trail. 
That man knows his business, Charley." 

" Good Lord ! " said Seaforth once more. " It's devilish. 
Harry. You're not going to tell anybody, and repeat the 
mistake you made ? " 

246 






HALLAM TRIES AGAIN 

doinj" '" "^"'^ ^'*°" ^"'"'^- " "^'"^^'^ J"^' *''^' I %"-e on 

"But," and Seaforth's horror was evident, " he may trv 

1™!m iJ V u'"""^ "'^" ""= Soniasco ranchers who 

wou d be sorry if— he was successful— Harry " 

thro i'^h v"^''"'' ''"•' 'he grating cachination sent a shiver 
inH ,fn.-« =°'"P^"'°"-. Yes," he said, " I think he will, 
thPthlnV *' ^"^ "^".'"e- He niay give himself away 
the third time, and then it will be either him or me " 

beaforth stood silent for almost a minute. " If vou 
would only hsten to me-but of course you will not Can" 

qinTt^mr?-^'^ '" *^ "^^ °' ---^^ --^^ ^'-ds' 
1 "'y?'i" ^"'^ Alton's smile was now quietly grim " It 
fhroLh ni'^n genius to figure out that. Before I'm 
through 1 11 know just who he is, and all about him." 

ve?v"s?oJ;?r" A^r '"''" ■""'"' " 'P^""- '^'^^" ^^ =P°ke 

very slowly. Are you sure you re wise ' " 

oaivi "" ifiT"^ "''" '^?"?"'le'^ r*" ^° "^=" he winced with 
" Th., ".V''^^l''°"'' '""^ yo" ve asked me that," he said. 

if y'rask it me agai;""" '°'" ^"" ^"" "" '" ""^ P^^'"- 

Seaforth shook his grasp off. "You are mv partner 

Harry and the only frien.I I have. God senTy^ safe 

fewirhriarl^tT''- '^ ''-'' ^"^ "- '" "-'^'"^ ^- 'he 
" No " said Alton in his usual voice. " There isn't He 
would have been waiting up there ready to whip the thine 
away, and by th.s time he has double.l back\l„wn "he 
do to him°?" •" ^ "'^" " "^ ""'""^ ''"*^"y "^hat could you 

•sh^k him.'''"'''"" '""' ^'''^°'^''' "' ^ *"" ""^ '""^P"*^"' ='"ff^'- 

" Oh. yes," said Alton languidly. " Still there isn't mnrh 

use in slinging names, and I'm kind of tired Help me t J 

helVfS^ci'rdonv"'' '"' "" ""'* ""' '"•= ''^"^'^ ^^■" 



i ft 



247 



CHAPTER XXV 



ALTON IS SILKNT 



There !s a ridge of rising ground on the outskirts of 
Vancouver City where a few years ago a prctt>- woodiMi 
house stood beneath tlie pines. The) ruse sombrely beliind 
it, but the axe had let in the sunlight between the riso and 
the water, and one coiUd look out from the trim garden 
across the blue inlet towards the ranges' snow. To-da_\ oiu' 
would in all probability look for that dwelling in vain, and 
find only stores or great stone buildings, for as the silent 
men with the axes push the lonely clearings farther back iiii ■ 
the forest the Western cities grow, and those who dwell in 
them increase in riches, which is not usually the case wit!i 
the axeman who goes on farther into the bu.sli again. 

Still, one moonlight evening, when Alton waited upon ii- 
verandah, cigar in hand, the house stood upon the hillsidr. 
pictures(iue with its painted scroll-work, green shutter-, 
colonnades of cedar pillars, and bnjad verandahs. Its owm r 
was an EnglLshman who had pro.spercd in the Dominiin, 
and combined the kindliness he still retained for his cntiii- 
trymen with the lavish hospitality of the West. He km \v 
Alton by reputation, and having business with him had m:iili.' 
him free of his house when he inquired for Deringli.ini. 
who was his guest, during the former's absence in tin' 
State of Washington. That was liow Alton came to bo 
waiting for dinner in company with a young naval officer. 
Deringham and his daughter had returned during the d.iv. 
but they had driven somewhere with their hostess and ti "t 
come back as yet. 

Alton had seen Commander Thome for the first time 
that day. but some friendships are made rapidly and with- 
out an effort, and he was ahcady sensible of a regard f^r 
his companion. He was a quiet and itnobtrusive Engli-'i- 
man, with the steadiness of gaze and decisiveness of spcccli 

248 



ALTOX IS SILENT 

vvhich characteri_zed those who command at sea and had 
discovered that he had, notwithstandins the jitfemfce i„ 
the.r vocations, much in common with rancLr Alton 

at Lsqumiault I will come up and spend a day or two amonir 
the deer Atkmson told us what a good time he had wi h 
>ou but we were a trifle astonished to see the fine w^p 
head he brought back with him " ^ 

There was a faint twinkle in the speaker's eyes which 
Alton uriderstood, for Atkinson, who ivas not an ad^nt -. 
.railing deer had shot more than a wapW St° I he waTno 

"S^'Vm, "'".''' '° \^^ misadventures of his guest 
fern" he «id "'^^^~^ ^°°'' ^"'"^'^'^ ^'^'^'- «"'' '" *e 

" Well," said Thome with a little laugh, " you were with 
£lg'or?h^r.Lt^„ J- '^'- •'— ' ^ toIerabTmSS 
sun^Jr^"."'"'''''^ ^ "^"'- "^ *^P'''' =" ^°°d deer-and 

the^hoT' ' V^^''' ^^r,- ■ " ^ ^"""^^^ 'f y°" have forgotten 
the hog? You see, Atkinson told us one night at mess 

the bLg"!"' "^ '° ^'"'-^ "^^ ^^""'^ "'^^'^ including y^u in 
Alton's face was suspiciously grave, but his answer 
strengthened the incipient friendship between the men 
in the bnsV'' ' ^°' ^ ''''"'^'' *" distinguish things 

i^t'ngtth yo'; J"" '^'^ ^"■"^'^="" ^"-^ ^^'- D"'"^- 

anil wf.In'^- A'to"- . ," They are connections of mine, 

iok 1 it^!""'^h l"" ''"' "F"" ,^''^^' ^''^ '"= ^hen I was 

country?" ''^°- ^"" ''"'=^ '^em in the old 

inTiisW^' ^u°l^^ ''' fT^ *° '•W'^^' '■'• soniething 
mm shaiply. Oh, yes," he said. " I knew them-rather 

woTl^ "l^'i's eyes met. and both were conscious that the 

aTruntn ^^"^ ^'"•" ^'" '""^P'"^^''- ^'"le -t was with a slight 
abruptness they returned to the previo-.s topic and dis- 

249 



!!^l 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



iV.ii! 



'■\i 



cussed it until there was a rattle of wheels in the drive. 
Then Forel, their host, came out upon the verandah, and 
there was a hum of voices as several people descended 
from the vehic'e beneath. 

Mrs. Forel came up the stairway first with Alice Dering- 
ham, and when a blaze of light shone into the verandah 
from the open door Alton saw the girl draw back for a 
second as her eyes rested upon his companion. She, how- 
ever, smiled next moment, and Alton did not miss the slight 
flush of pleasure in the face of Commander Thorne. He 
was also to meet with another astonishment, for Deringhani 
and Seaforth came up the stairway next together, and 
Thorne dropped his cigar when he and the latter stood face 
to face. 

" Charley ! Is it you ? " he said. 

Seaforth stood quite still a moment looking at him, and 
then, being possibly sensible that other eyes were upon 
him, shook hands. 

" Yes," he said. " I heard the gunboat was at Esqui- 
mault, but did not expect to see you." 

Then there was a somewhat awkward silence, and Mtc:i 
fancied that both men were relieved when Mrs. Forel's 
voice broke in, " Jack, you will look after the men. but 
don't keep them talking too long. We picked up Mr. Sea- 
forth, and there are one or two more of our frien<ls 
coming." 

Alton followed his host, wondering at what he had scoti. 
It was evident that Miss Deringhani had not noticed liim. 
and he fancied she had been for a moment almost em- 
barrassed by the encounter with Thorne. That and wliat 
the man had told him had its meaning. He had also noticed 
that when the latter greeted his comrade there had been a 
constraint upon both of them, but decided that what it be- 
tokened did not concern him. 

Returning he found Mrs. Forel waiting for him, aivl 
having been bom in a Western city her conversation was 
not marked by English reticence or the restraint which i'^ 
at least as common in the Canadian bush. 

" Dinner is ready, and vou will have to talk to me and 
the railroad man during it," she said. " I had thought ul 

250 



■wmK^m 



ALTON IS SILENT 

making you over to Miss Deringham until Commander 
Ihorne turned up. Jack and he are great friends, but he 
didn t seem able to get over here, until he heard Miss 
Ueringham was staymg with us." 

.h^'^i'" m'-^"^,^^''- ^ .""'*■ " ^°* ^''^t *■" I to answer to 
tnat r Miss Dermgham was very good to me." 

The lady fancied that his merriment was a trifle forced 

You will just sit down, and eat your dinner like a sensible 

man, she said. "You are a Canadian and not expected 

to say nice things like those others from the old country 

innl (1u ' *.7^''^ '^? ■' """y ^^"' *"'', though Jack is 

tend of them, they make me tired now and then '^ 

Alton took his place beside her, and speedily found him- 
self at home. Save for the naval officer and two English 
financiers the men present had a stake in the future of that 
country, and as usual neither they nor their womenkind 
considered it out of place to talk of their affairs. Thev 
were also men of mark, though several of them who now 
held large issues in very capable hands had commenced life 
as wielders of the axe. Most of them had heard of Alton of 
the bomasco Consolidated, and those who liad not listened 
with attention when he spoke, for it was evident that they 
and the rancher had the same cause at heart. Alice Dcrine- 
lam noticed this, and, though he was not conscious of it 
little Alton did that night escaped her attention. 

:5he saw that while he rarely asserted himself, these men 
Whom she knew were regarded with respect as leaders of 
great industries, accepted him as an equal when they had 
heard him speak, but that caused her less surprise than the 
tashion m which he adapted himself to his surroundings, 
nnll fd .already discovered that he was a man with abilities 
and ambitions, but she had only seen him amidst the grim 
Mmplicity of the Somasco ranch, and now there was no 
trininfr lapse or momentary embarrassments to show that he 
lound the changed conditions incongruous. His dress was 
also different, but he wore his city garments as though he 
had worn nothing else, and there was, she fancied, an in- 
oetinite stamp of something which almost amounted to dis- 
tinction upon him that set him apart from the rest Even 
seatorth wondered a little at his comrade, but boili he and 

251 



n 



M 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 




Alice Deringham overlooked the fact that Altoti had not 
spent his whole life at Somasco ranch. 

He, on his part, as the girl was quite aware, glanced often 
at her. She did not, however, meet his gaze, for once Alton 
was on the way to recovery, she had left the ranch some- 
what hastily, and there had been as yet no defining of the 
relations betv. icii them, while neither she nor her father 
were cogniz .i\. of the actual cause of his wound. In the 
meanwhile ^:ie made the most of Thome, and by degrees 
Alton lost hlj grip of the conversatic!. He had never seen 
Alice Deringham attired as she was then, and, for his hostess 
had made the bravest display possible, the profusion of 
flowers, glass, and glittering silver which it seemed appro- 
priate that she should be placed amidst, in a curious fashion 
troubled the man. This, he knew, was a part of the environ- 
ment she had been used to, and he sighed as he thought of 
the sordid simplicity at Somasco. There was also Com- 
mander Thorne beside her, and the naval officer was one 
upon whom the stamp of birth and polish was very visible. 
This man, he surmised, would understand the thoughts anil 
fancies which were incomprehensible to him, and was ac- 
quainted with all the petty trifles which are of vast import- 
ance to a woman in the aggregate. 

Alton's heart grew heavy as he watched them, noticinc: 
the passing smile of comprehension that came so easily and 
expressed so much, and heard through the hum of voins 
the soft English accentuation which by contrast with liis 
own speech seemed musical. He knew his value in tlic 
busy world, but he also knew his failings, and the knowl- 
edge was bitter to him then. There were so many little 
things he did not know, and he saw himself, as he tliouglit 
the girl must see him — uncouth, which it was impossible for 
him to be, crude of thought, over-vehement or taciturn in 
speech, a barbarian. The misgivings had troubled him 
before, but they were very forceful now, and at last he was 
glad when Mrs. Forel smiled at him. 

" You have been watching Miss Deringham, and neglect- 
ing me." she said. 

For a moment Alton looked almost confused, and the 
lady laughed as she continued. " Very pretty and stylish, 

352 



ALTON IS SILENT 

io'!?vJt''^h..»^i°'^ ** ^u"-'^ P'''""^ *?'■■'* "8^"^' here in Van- 
couver, but I fancy they can still give us points in one 

mtLX "■°"Wnt worry to tell me so; I think Com- 
mander Thome could do it more neatly " 

He IS apparently too busy," said Alton, " Still, I fancy 
if you asked hmi he would support me " 
r^^n"' ^°'''} 'S"^'' mischievously. " Well, though one 
could scarcely blame you, jealousy wouldn't do you any 
^■^xi, i" '"■■'*.'^ '■''^^^ fi^""*^' ''■''^"ds in the old country." 
.. Af ' ^'^ '^"°"' " '* ^ •'"''= indefinite." 
Of course, but I tlon't know anything more," said his 
companion. " Lieutenant Atkinson, who knew them both, 
told me. Thorne wasn t rich, you sec, but he comes of eood 
people, and not long ago somebody left him all their money 
Quite romantic, isn't it? Still, don't you think Miss Dering- 
teronT' 'hrown away upon anybody less than a 

Alton did not answer, but his face grew somewhat grim 
as once more he glanced across at Thorne. This he 
thought, was a good man, and he had all that Alton felt 
himself so horribly deficient in. In the meanwhile Mrs 
I'orel was lookmg at Seaforth, who was talking to the wife 
of an English financier. 

"I like your partner, and he is from the old country 
too, she said. " Of course you know what he was over 
there ? 

It was put artlessly, but Alton's eves twinkled. "I'm 
afraid I don't, though I've no doubt Charley would have 
told me if I d asked him," he said. " He is a tolerably useful 
man m this country, anyway, and that kind of contented 

The lady shook her head at him reproachfully. " And I 
mought you were slow in the bush," said she. " Still 
Ihorne will know." 

Alton fancied his hostess intended to be kind to him but 
lie was glad when the dinner was over and he gravitated 
with the ottier men towards Forel's smoking-room. There 
as It happened, thy talk turned upon shooting and fishing' 
and when one or two of the guests had narrated their 

2S3 



i 



' l.i 






4 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

adventures in the ranges, one who was bent and fizzled 
told in turn several grim stories of the early days when the 
treasure-seekers went up into the snows of Caribou. There 
was a brief silence when he had finished, until one of the 
Englishmen said: 

" I presume things of that kind seldom happen now? " 

" I don't know," said Seaforth, who spoke in the Western 
idiom. " We have still a few of the good old-fashioned 
villains right here in this country, and that reminds me of a 
thing which happened to a man I know. He was a quiet 
man, and quite harmless so long as nobody worried him, 
but generally held on with a tight grip to his own, and ho 
once got his hands into something another man wanted. 
That was how tin fuss began." 

There was a little pause, during which .Mton glanced 
bewildereilly at his comrade, and Dcriuj^'ham glanced round 
as he poured himself out a whisky and seltzer. 

" It's not an uncommon beginning," said Forel, " What 
was the end ? " 

" There isn't any," said Seaforth, " but I can tell you the 
middle. ' 'ne day the quiet man, who was living by himself 
way up in the bush, went out hunting, and as he had eaten 
very little for a week he was tolerably hungry. Well, when 
he had been out all day he got a deer, and was packing it 
home at night when he struck a belt of thick timber. Tlie 
man was played out from want of food, the deer was heav\ . 
but he dragged him.self along thinking of his supper, until 
something twinkled beneath a fir. He jumped when lie 
>aw it. but he wasn't quick enough, and went down with a 
bullet in him. His rifle fell away from him where ho 
couldn't get it without the other man seeing him, and lit- 
was bleeding fast, but still sensible enough to know tli:it 
nobody would .'tart out on a contract of that kind withmit 
his magazine full. It was a tolerably tight place for him 
— the man was worn out. and almost famishing, and he Iny 
there in the snow, getting fainter every minute, with (nic 
leg no use tn him." 

Seaforth Inokcd round as though to see what imprcssidn 
he had made, and though all the faces were turned towards 
him it was one among them his eyes rested on. Deringham 

254 



ALTON IS SILEXT 

was leaning forward in his chair with fingers closeu' more 
tightly about the glass he held than there seemed any ne- 
cessity for. J IS eyes were slightly dilated, and Seaforth 
tancied he read m them a growing horror. 

•■ He crawled away into the bush ? " said somebody. 
No, sir, said Seaforth. " he just wriggled into the un- 
dergrowth and waited for the other nian'^ 

"Waited for him?" said Korel. 
.1," \l''" ^^''^ Seaforth. " That is what he did, and when 
the other man came along peering into the bushes, just 
reached out and grabbed him by the leg. Then they both 
rolled over, and 1 think that must have been a tolerably 
grim struggle. There they were, alone, far up in the bush, 
and probably not a living soul within fortv miles of them " 
J>eaforth stopped again and reached out for his glass 
while he noticed that Deringham emptied his at a gjlp and 
refilled it with fingers that seemed to shake a trifle 

_ And your friend got away ? " said somebody. 
No, sir," said Seaforth. " It was the other man. The 
one I knew had his hand on the other's throat and his knife 
feeling for a soft place when his adversary broke away from 
nim. He did it just a moment too soon, for while he was 
getting out through the bush the other one dropped his 
knife and rolled over in the snow. He lay there a day or 
two until somebody found him." 

Seaforth rose and moved towards the cigar-bo); on the 
table. And that's all," he said. 

.1 " P"'^"'^"'^' *•"* it's a little incomplete, isn't it?" said 
tlic englishman. 

SeafortI: smiled somewhat dryly, and once more glanced 
casually towards Deringham. " It may be finishes by and 
oy, and I fancy the wind-up will be more dramatic still," 
lie said. You see the man who would wait for his enemy 
With only a knife in his hand while his life drained away 
tr.^him. is scarcely likely to forget an injury." 

There was silence for several moments which was broken 
tf ^t "^hl" ^"'^ * stream of whisky and seltzer dripped from 



; I 



ingham 



Hailo_! " said Forel. " Has anything upset you, Der- 



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ALTOX OF SOMASCO 

Deringham stood up with a little harsh laugh, dabbing 
It the breast of his shirt with his handkerchief. 

" I think the question should apply to my glass, but the 
room is a trifle hot, and my heart has been troubling mc 
lately," he said. 

Forel flung one of the windows open. " I fancy my wife 
is waiting for us, gentlemen, and I will be with you in a few 
minutes," he said. 

Alton and Seaforth were almost the last to file out of the 
smoking-room, and when they reached the corridor the 
former turned upon his comrade with a glint in his half- 
closed eyes. 

" You show a curious taste for a man raised as you have 
been in the old country," he said. " Now what in the name 
of thunder made you tell that story? " 

Seaforth smiled somewhat inanely. " I don't know ; I 
just felt I had to. All of us are subject to little weaknesses 
occasionally." 

Alton stopped and looked at him steadily. " Then there 
will be trouble if you give way to them again. And you 
put in a good deal more than I ever told anybody. Now 
you haven't brains enough to figure out all that." 

Seaforth laughed good-humouredly. " It is possibly for- 
tunate that Tom has," he said. 

" Tom — be condemned," said Alton viciously, and Sea- 
forth, seeing that he was about to revert to the previous 
question, apparently answered a summons from his host and 
slipped back into the smoking-room. 

Alton waited a moment, and then moved somewhat 
stiffly towards a low stairway which led to a broad landing 
that was draped and furnished as an annex to an upper 
room. One or two of the company were seated there, ami 
he hoped they would not notice him, for while he could 
walk tolerably well upon the level a stairway presented 
a difficulty. He had all his life been a vigorous man. .^nd 
because of it was painfully sensitive about his alfliction. 
Just then Mrs. Forel came out upon the landing, and when 
the girl she spoke to turned. Alton saw that Alice Dering- 
ham was looking down on him. For a moment there was a 
brightness in his eyes, but it faded suddenly, and while his 

256 



ALTON IS SILENT 

knee bent under him he set his Hps as witli pain. Then he 
stumbled and clung to the balustrade. For a moment lie 
dare not look up. and when he did so there was a flush on 
Ills forehead which slowly died away as he saw the face 
of the girl. 

She had also laid her hand as if for support upon the 
balustrade, for it was unfortunate she had not been told 
that one effect of Alton's injury would be permanent At 
the commencement of their friendship she had been pain- 
fully aware of what she considered his shortcomings but 
these had gradually become less evident, and something in 
the mans forceful personality had carried her avvav 
1 ossibly, though she may not have realized it. his sp'.-ndid 
animal vigour had its part in this— and now dismav and a 
great pity struggled within her. It was especially un- 
fortunate that when Alton looked up the consternation had 
iisen uppermost, for the man's perceptions were not of the 
clearest then, and he saw nothing of the compassion, but 
only the shrinking m her eyes. 

His face grew a trifle grey as he straightened himself with 
a visible effort and limped forward, for he was one who 
could make a quick decision, while to complete his bitterness 
Ihorne came up behind him and slipped an arm beneath 
nis shoulder. 

,< " You seem a little shakv. I'll help you up," he said 
An axe-cut? The effect will probably soon wear off" 
Alton understood that Thorne was talking to cover anv 
embarrassment he may have felt, but was not especially 
grateful just then. " No," he said ; " a rifle-shot." 

He fancied that Thorne was a trifle astonished, and 
remembered Seaforth's story, but they had gained the head 
of the stairway now, and he looked at Alice Deringham as 
he added. And the effect will not wear off." 

Thorne passed through with the others into the lighted 
room, and Alton stood silent before the girl She was a 
trifle pale, and though the pity for him was there it is 
possible that she had understood him. and she was very 
proud. Thus the silence that was perilous lasted too long 
and her voice was a trifle strained in place of gentle as 
she said, " I am so sorry." 

257 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



if' 



Alton, who dared not lool- at her, now bent his head. 
" You are very kind — still, it can't be helped," he said. 
" I think Mrs. Forel is coming back for you. Somebody is 
going to sing." 

Their hostess approached the doorway, and Alice Der- 
ingham found words fail her as she watched the man, 
though she knew that the silence was horribly eloquent. 
It was Alton who broke it. 

" You had better go in. I " — and he smiled bitterly — 
" will wait until the music commences and they cannot 
notice me." 

The girl could stay no longer, though at last words which 
would have made a difference to both of them rose to her 
lips, but Alton waited until he could slip into the room 
unnoticed, and heard very little of the music. During it 
Mrs. Forel managed to secure a few words with Thome. 

" You seem to have made friends with rancher Alton," 
she said. 

Thome smiled a little. " Yes," he said. " Of course I 
know little about him, but I think that is a man one could 
trust." 

The lady nodded, for he had given her an opportunity. 
" You know mOie about his partner? " 

Thome's manner appeared to change a trifle, which Mrs. 
Forel of course noticed. " Yes," he said. 

The lady thoughtfully smoothed out a fold of her dress. 
" Well," she said with Western frankness, " I want to know 
a little about him, too." 

Thome smiled as he saw there was no evading the issue. 
" So I surmised from what your husband asked me. Sea- 
forth was considered a young man of promise when I 
knew him in England, and his family is unexceptional. His 
father, however, lost a good deal of money, which pre- 
sumably accounts for Charley having turned Canadian 
rancher." 

Mrs. Forel turned so that she could see her companion. 
" That is not what I mean, and I think I had better talk 
quite straight to you. Now T like Mr. Seaforth and Mr. 
Alton, too, and as Jack is mixed up in some business of 
theirs and they are going to stay down in Vancouver we 

258 



ALTON IS SILENT 

shall probably see a good deal of them. Jack, however is 

;; You fancy there is one?" Thome said quietly 
n;„t,f ^l Lieutenant Atkinson made a little blunder one 
ni},'ht when he spoke of him." 

drvW^'^'^rT "'''^'' I'^^'.T^' ™"<^^ ^^"'^•" Thorne said 
vZ ^; %''°"'«^"; f2""e<i a man took his standing among 
you accordmg to what he did in this country " ^ 

Yes, said Mrs. Forel. " The trouble is that the man 
who has crossed the line once may do so again. WeU, you 
see who these people are, and if he meets them here it 
means that I vouch for him." 

thIt^lZl^^^'\ " M ^"'t'".'"", '^^^ blundered, I am afraid 
nf <; TJl P'''''': ^T ' ''°" t ^^'"^ y°" "eed be afraid 
than foolish and somebody victimized him, but he has had 
his punishment and borne it very well-while if you knew 
the whole story you would scarcely blame him " 
And that is all you can tell me?" 

if "rl^rL '^'"^ '^^°"'^' ^"7 'l"'^*'"- " Still. I can add that 
If Charley ever comes back to old country I— and mv 
""^l^l ^"? s'sters-would be g.ad to welcome him." 

mat 1 thmk should be sufficient," said Mrs Forel 
vvho was acquainted with Commander Thome's status iii 
tne old country. 

It was a little later when Alton glanced towards Thorne 

who was talking to Alice Deringham. " I could get on 

with that man," he said. " You knew him, Charley >" 

Oh, yes, said Seaforth with a curious expression 

He IS a very good fellow, and has distinguished himself 

latd?' *"""■ ^""'^'^'^y '«ft him a good deal of money 

. Alton seemed to sigh. "Well," he said slowly, "he 
IS to be envied. They wouldn't have much use for him in 
.rour navy if he was a cripple." 

uI'^^A,?^'^?^^^^ breaking up before Alton had speech 
\vith Alice Deringham again, and as it happened the girl 
had just left Commander Thorne. Alton spoke with an 

259 



i 


i 




i'' 







ALTON OF SOMASCO 

effort as one Roing through a task. " I never thanked you 
yet for what you did for ine," he said. 

The girl smiled, though her pulses were throbbing pain- 
fully. " It was very little." 

" No," said Alton gravely. " I think I should not have 
been here now if you had not taken care of me, and I'm 
very grateful. Still." — and he glanced down with a wry 
smile at his knee, which was bent a trifle — " it was unfortu- 
nate you and the doctor did not get me earlier. T''-.re are 
disadvantages in being — all one's life — a cripple." 

As fate would have it they were interrupted before Miss 
Deringham could answer, and Alton limped down the stair- 
way very grim in face, while Thome appeared sympathetic 
when he overtook him. " That wound of yours is troub- 
ling you ? " he said. 

" Yes," said A Iton dryly ; " I'm afraid it will. Now 1 
was a trifle confused when you helped me. Did I tell you 
how I got it?" 

Thorne remembering Seaforth's story answered indiffer- 
ently, " I concluded it w is an axe-cut." 

He passed on, but Alton had quick perceptions, and 
made a little gesture of content.nent. " He is almost good 
enough, anyway," he said vvcanly. 

When all the guests had gone Deringham came upon his 
daughter alone. " I noticed Mr. Alton was not effusive," 
he said. 

" No," said the girl languidly, though there was a curious 
expression in her eyes. " I do not remember that he told 
much beyond the fact that he would be a cripple — all his 
life. He mentioned it twice." 



260 



CHAPTER XXVI 

■WITHOUT COUNTING THE COST 

cnSire''and''rw.' ^«^'^^'?f ^Peculation in industrial 
T„,!Tu . ' ^''^ unusually late at nitrht when Ilfi« 

Townshead rose weari'y from the table she^had been b sv 

,Vhrw°l''7-'''"y^"'""'^ P^S^ess, still sa Srand a 

r=,„^°v'? through?" said Miss Holder. "Well if vou 
xr'^r'* i?" """"'es ni come along with vou '' ^ 

Wellie Townshead was not especiallv fond of hpr r«™ 
pamon, but at that hour the str^eetsT;.re ?oneIv and she' 
sa down again when she had put on her hat am, jacket 
\\lde she waited a little bell began to ring and Miss 
Holder rose with an impatient exclamation ^ 

Get your pencil, Nellie." she said, as she took the 
telephonic receiver down from the hook ^ 

Miss Townshead took a sheet of paper from a case ind 
waited until her companion spoke again "Oh ves Tm 
here. A little late to worry tired folkT "sn't it^Vo ' M^ 
Hallams away just now. Wire from Somasco just come 
"rTundeV? V^ '''"'. i?^" '■' ^' ^°°" ^^ ^-e can. Oh! 
oxde Inrvr-'^°v P'^t'""';:- S^'ena. cyanide, Alton 
•vhlnM n 'f,- ^""''^ 8^°* *=>*• NelHe? Ho I know 
■^henHallamwilIgetit? No. I don't. Good-night." 

261 



!! li 



m 



ALTON OF, SOMASCO 

Now a man would probably have at once enclosed the 
message in an envelope, but a Western business lady not 
infrequently takes a kindly interest in the private concerns 
of her employer especially if they are not quite clear to 
her. Accordingly Miss Holder sat down aid read over 
the message, after which she shook her head 

H,lti J°"k" '^^^K}^j ,*" *N"'- ^"'l I 'lo""' 'ike that 
1^ i .'^^ f'^- "*= ' *" '"^«<^'- A crawling one with 
fr^/lT "If 1° P'" ^'?'e diamond in front oion,\s he 
does ,s horrible taste. Give me the book, Nellie. It reads 
hke our cypher Oh, yes. ' Instructions to hand. No kgal 
miprovements done and claim unrecorded. Will relocate.' 

^t^Z" ''• W-1l'"^, *'"' ''^r ?,'^"''^ f°^' ^"d it re is quite 
straight. Will relocate the silver claim as soon as pros- 
pecting is possible Alton cannot take action.' He nfeans 
ne s got him in a vise. 

Miss Holder crossed the landing and tapped at the door 
of the adjoining room, while Nellie Townshead walked to 
the window and looked down on the city. It stretched 
away before her, silent for once under its blinking lights, 
«dewalk and pavement lying empty far down benlath the 
mazy wires and towering buildings, but she saw little of 

rnn! f■^^^.^^u"^'^ ^°y^'i^ "'^ ^^""^ where the Somasco 
Consolidated had their offices. The message had troubled 
ner, for she recalled many kindnesses shown to her and 
tier father by the owners of Somasco ranch. She also 
owed one of them a reparation, for she had seen the man 
who miscarried the message in Vancouver, and knew that 
the delay, when the ranch was sold, was not Alton's fault. 
Nor had she forgiven Hallam for the greed and cunninir 
which had effected her father's ruin, and now it =EemoH 
that he held Alton of Somasco and his partner in his grip, 
Ihat there was treachery at work she felt sure, and grew 
hot with indignation as she determined that if she could 
prevent It neither Alton— nor his partner— should suffer. 

It might have occurred to a man that what she con- 
templated implied a breach of confiden. e, but Nellie Towns- 
head was a high-spirited girl, and onlv realized that Hallam 
was about to wrong her friends just then. 

There would also be no difficulty in warning him. foi 
262 



WITHOUT COUNTING THE COST 

^tI:i'V^:i^ a'Vn'"" "' "^^ S°— Con. 
room. "^^ '^^"is out of the adjoining 

and take Miss Townshe^ u- th ^"" ' ^'^J" =»">■ 'onger, 
fancied." '"wnsnead with you. It's later than I 

siIem"sttTrant'S^''V*:^^^^^ f ^'\-"' -' '"to the 
panion at the corner of oL of f^''' ""'^^ '^^^ '■"«■■ com- 
at>d walked back sc^^ewhat ,owI "oTrt ':;"r' --"""J again 
come. She did not notice that mL'^?tu 't^ ,"'='>' ^^e had 
and was watching her ?or she itni™^7 ^"'t ='''° t"^"^d 
that what she was about to h1 , f 'f ^1 ^°/ "^<= «"' time 
Still, remembering how Hallam h!,'.':' ^l "?'l^°"«Ption. 
she went on, and only stoDoeT for . "''"^ ^^' ^^^er, 
entered the great build^nt i^^h. " '"°'"^"' ^^^^n she 
the office of fhe Somas oVonsoldaS'' T "' ^''^^"^^ 
The •ooras which had h>vm,,, • l • ""■* ^'^^y silent, 

"vere shut, and one blinking If /'''\^°«-' ^" '^^^ 'ong 
of the big empt° corridor ^ '•g^>t emp|,a,„,j ^^e darknesf 
from the citv but X h^^' ^<^^'^5^'y a sound reached her 
were tig'hted.' and went uV?he 'I"' '^° ^""'°"'^ ^^S^ up 
warnini could be delivered in 1^.^^^ resolutely.^ The 
fancied that Alton would not hi a minute, and she 

the conventionalitieras und rstood in EnlV^t '^"'^^ "^^* 
unknown in the West ""='^stooa m hngland are almost 

nof t,;'o^rh^:"te^Jt\ht ro^^^^^^ ^^i^ I-'"*«d did 
busy about th^ stove ust then Tn .["'"'"J ^'' °'^^^' ^^"^ 
couver had more inhibftams thnn ,V '", ?'-"' ^"''^" ^an- 
..or and its hotels overflowed Se men" 1-''^" ^"■'^ ^°°'" 
'n the public restaurants Hved as best ,h.. "F,"'""' "'^''^' 
stores and offices or in r id? Tw 7 ,''°"''^' °^<^'" their 

anvwhere on th'e\:;k,rsortfe'dtrih !!'">" '""^-"P 
probable that a eood m-inv ^f ..^ \^' -^ " 's not im- 
fashion now. A^ton h^d hoi ''■' '1 """^'^ "^^ ^ame 

supper, for reafons which th7 ^eaf oJ"''' *' "'^u °''^'°<^"^ 
-de plain, and was then t^fg?,^ ?^ c^rnV^o^nl^thtt 



I! 





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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

in a frying-pan. A portable cedar partition partly shrouded 
the little table set out with a few plates, and the stove, 
while his ol'' workcd-decrhide slippers and loose jacket 
indicated that the man was just then not so much in his 
place of business as at home. He had been busy in the city 
and at his desk for ten hours that day, for the Somasco 
products were becoming known, and men had been toiling 
in the valley, (' iving roads, and building « nev/ sawmill 
in the frost ana snow. I'art of Alton's business in the city 
was to raise the money that was needed to niamtain them, 
and already he could foresee that if the time of prosperity 
was delayed it might go hardly with the Somasco Company. 

He had laid .. Jwn the frying-pan and was shaking a pot 
of strong green tea when there was a tapping at the door, 
which opened while he wondered whether there would be 
time for him to alter his attire. Then he ftood up with the 
teapot in his hand, and made a little whimsical gesture of 
dismay as Miss Townshead stood before him. She coloured 
a trifle, but took courage at Alton's soft laugh, for it was 
clear that he was a:; yet only concerned about the plight in 
which she had found him. Alton, she remembered, had 
not been brought up conventionally in England, and she 
knew his wholesome simplicity. 

" I'm very glavl to see you, but if I'd known who was 
there I'd ha\, fixed the place up before you got in," he 
said. " Sit n^ht down beside the stove." 

Nellie Townshead stood still a moment, but she was 
tired and the night was cold, so she took the chair he drew 
forward, and then shook her head as he laid a cup before 
her. 

" It's Horton's tea, and bad at that, but it will help us to 
fancy o-irselves back in the bush," he said, " Your fitlicr 
is keeping all right? " 

The girl made a little gesture of impatience. " Yes," 
she said. " I am almost afraid I am doing wrong, hut I 
felt I must warn you. Now don't ask me any questions, 
but take it as a fact that Hallam has sent up somebody to 
locate your silver as soon as it can be done. He seems to 
consider he has you at a disadvantage because you have 
not put in your legal improvements " 

264 



WITHOUT COUNTING THE COST 

th,^'i?r1 n7''w"' '^}l^" r^'^ ="'' ^^^""^^'^ °"= •'and, while 
the girl noticed w'h rchef that he had almost forgotten 

vni!.i**"^'"l ^u ^"^.' ""'^ ''°PP<='' * moment, while his 
S u- n^?,,'' *'•'''■ '=°«''i""'='l- "gomg to restake my 

rT Now ""^ " '""^ '"" '" ''^"'' ""'^ ''^ ""■' ''" ■' 

The girl stopped him with a gesture. " You must ask 
rne^ nothing, she said. " You can understand what I told 

A slow glow crept into Alton's eves. " Oh, yes, it's all 
quite plam, he saul. " When you find a mineral cl^im you 
have goi to record it in fifteen days, or it goes back to the 
Lrown, and I couldn t do that, you see, because I was lyinr 
for weeks at Somasco. Well, while the claim is unrecorded 
anybody can jump it, but I couldn't get back up there 
through the snow, and didn't figure rfallam's man knew 
just where to find it. Now you've told me we'll get in 
ahead of him yet, and the man he sends up there will have 
his jo'-ney for nothing. Do you know that what you have 
done ^ans just everything to Somasco?" 
,u .?, sjopPed suddenly, and there was consternation in 
the girl's face as she glanced at him. 
x/ "^'l'^ there's somebody coming," he said slowly 
Now there was still just time for Alton to have shut the 
outer ,\ooT, but he remembered for the first time that the 
girl s visit at that hour might be considered unusual and 
It appeared probable that she would not approve of the 
action, while having as yet only dealt with men, his usual 
quick decision deserted him. He glanced once from his 
companion to the partition and the door of the inner room, 
and shook his head Then he sprang forward towards the 
^ f nnf°°.^' °i^ r'"^ ^^^} ''^ ^^= '^'^^- That, however, 
nn .r .^i.^^*^ ^^""V ^"^ ••" •'e stumbled a little the tray 
Tu rl! . K ^^'■"^'' "^^"^ ^°^" ^'th 3 "ash, scattering 
IS contents about the room, while before he reached the 
uoor It swung open and a man stood smiling in the opening. 
Hello! I seem to have «c.'.r'd you," he said "Got 
anything you don't want folks 'o know about in here'" 
inc stranger moved forwai i another step, and then 
36s 




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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

stopped abruptly with a little pasp as his glance took in 
the overturned tray, scattered crockery, an-l the rigid figure 
of the girl standing with a flushed face beside the stove. 
Then he glanced at Alton, and noticing the old jacket 
and deerhide slippers, appeared to have some diflficulty 
m checking a smile, for this was a young man who knew 
nothmg of the simple strenuous life of the bush, but a good 
deal about the under-side of that of the cities." 
„ c ^'" *^°'"* ^'^^ '" ''"^'"ess hours to-morrow," he said. 
Sorry to disturb you, but I hadn't a minute all day, and 
there was a question I figured we could best talk over 
quietly. 

<< ^3^V^ ^°" ^^^ ''^""' ^'^"^ '" "'■''^ ''■" '^'d ^''O" quietly. 

This lady, who came here on business, is just going." ' 

" Of course," said the stranger. " I think I have had the 
pleasure of meeting her." 

He turned with a little smile which broadened into n grin 
Alton found intolerable, for there was a patter of feet on 
the stairwa;, and when he looked round except for him- 
self and Alton the room was empty. 

" The fact is I'm awfully sorry," he said. " But how was 
I to know ? " 

"The veins were swollen on Alton's forehead, and his eyes 
half-closed. " Now," he said sternly, " I don't want to hear 
any more of that. I think I told you the lady you saw 
here came in a few minutes ago on an affair of business." 

It was unfortunate that Alton had a difficult temper ami 
his visitor no discretion, for there are men in whom Western 
directness degenerates into eflfrontery. 

"Of cof.-se!" said the latter. "My dear fellow, ymi 
needn't protest. Considering the connection between lier 
employers and Hallam. who is scarcely a friend of yours, 
that is especially likely." 

Alton stood very straight, looking at the speaker in a 
fashion which would have warned any one who knew him. 
" I figure you can't help being a fool, but I want to hear 
you admit that you're sorry for it," he said. 

He spoke very quietly, but it was unfortunate for bdtli 
of them that the other man, who was growing slightlv 
nettled, did -ot know when to stop. 

2(/) 



WITHOUT COUNTING THE COST 

"I told you I was sorry— I looked in at an inopportune 
t.me-already. and I'll forget it n„ht off," he said. "Now 

wnnl 1 ,v iir""' ''"y^'^y- bc^-^"se there are folks who 
would think the story too tjood to be lost " 

• I ^u^ "? f'T'^er, because Alton stepped forward and 
seued h„n by the collar, which tore awav in his grasp 
Then there was a brief .. .,t1le, a scattering of papers up 
and down the room, and Alton stood gasping in the door 

Tn/'nT ^ " u""°\ '"f"^ ''''^■" 'he first flight of stairs 
and into the wall at the foot of it. Alton glanced down at 
mm a moment, d seeing he was not seriously hurt, flung 
the door to with a bang that rolled from corridor to cor- 

h..°!-t^Z'^ J^^ r^''! '"^"' '""''""S^- before he turned 
Dac.{ mto the disordered r< ^m with a littL laugh 

Ive fixed that fellow, an>way, and now I'd better go 
through those plans until I s' nmer down." he said. 

He picked up the overt ned table and his scattered 
supper, while it was chars ..ristic of him that when an 
hour later he rolled up a sheet of mill-drawings in a survey 
plotting of the Somasco valley, he had forgotten all about 
the inc.lent, which was, however, not tl case with the 
other man. In another twenty minutes was also fast 
asleep, and because men commence their ,rk betimes in 
that country, had disposed of several car-loads of Somasco 
produce before he breakfasted next morning. During the 
day he noticed that some of the younger men he met smiled 
at him curiously, but attached no especial meaning to it 
Alton had taught himself to concentrate all his faculties 
upon his task, and he worked in the citv as he had done in 
the bush, with the singleness of purpose and activity that 
lett no opportunity of considering side issues. He had 
also as usual, a good deal to do: buvers of dressed lumber, 
cattle, and ranching produce to interview: shippers of 
horses to bargain with: railroad men and politicians to 
obtain promises of concessions from, and men who had 
money to lend to interest. The latter was the most diffi- 
cult task, and now and then his face grew momentarily 
grave as he remembered the burdens he had already laid 
"Ponh's ranch and the Somasco Consolidated. 
" Still, what we're working for is bound to come, and 
267 



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ALTON OE SOMASCO 

we'll hold on somehow until it does," he said to Forel, who 
occasionally remonstrated with him. " When you've helped 
me to put the new loan through I'll bring Charley or the 
other man down, and go up and relocate the claim. After 
the late ^lowfall nobody could get through the ranges 
now, but Tom and I could make our way when it wouldn't 
be possible to any of Hallam's men." 

Possibly because he had been successful hitherto, Alton 
was slightly over-sanguine, and apt to make too small 
allowance in his calculations for contingencies in which 
human foresight and tenacity of purpose may not avail 
It happened in the meanwhile, though he was, of course 
not aware of this, that Deringham had an interview with 
Hallam in the smoking-room of the big C. P. R. hotel 
They did not enter it together, for Deringham was sit- 
ting there when Hallam came in, about the time the 
Atlantic express was starting, which accounted for the fact 
that there was nobody olse present. Deringham appeared 
a trifle too much at his ease, though his face was pale, for 
he had not departed from veracity when he informed 
Forel that his heart had troubled him after listening to 
Seaforth s story. He nodded to Hallam, and picked out a 
fresh cigar from the box upon the ta'^ie before he spoke. 
It IS fine weather," he said. 
" Oh, yes," said Hallam dryly. " Still, I guess you didn't 
ask me to come here and talk about the climate." 

" No," and Deringham glanced at his cigar. " I meant 
to tell you that the little speculation you recently mentioned 
does not commend itself to me. In fact, I have decided 
that we can have no more dealings of any description 
together." *^ 

" No? " said Hallam, with a little brutal laugh. " Dollars 
running out ? " 

Deringham glanced at him languidly. "As you know, 
that IS not the reason. Now I do not ask for a return of 
the money you obtained from me— but I want the thing 
stopped immediately." 

Hallam poured out a glass of wine. " You will have to 
put it straight." 

" Well," said Deringham, " if you insist. I am sincerely 
268 



WITHOUT COUNTING THE COST 

sorry I ever saw or heard of you. You, of course, remem- 
H«ir.H T'^'au"' °," ^^'='' ^ "^'^^ that deal with you I 
in nn /■ "^'1°" "j^Pt-^way from Somasctv-for a time, 
and now I want a definite promise from you that he will 
be^free from any further molestation." 
„„ '-r f i^ Hallam, with a grin, " what's your pro- 

gramme If I don't agree? You would put the police^ on 

*!, '^u'L' ^3'd IJeringham, making the best play he could 
though he reahzed the weakness of his hand. " That would 
not appear advisable-or necessary. It would be simpler 
to warn my kmsman." "■"■I'lcr 

^n^rllt'll i^'v '''' ^^"^ "P°" *^ t^ble, and Deringham 

b"rSenacity T^rT^ '"' '""^'^•"'' '"' "^^^^^ ^ ^ 

wav?''"t!!' «-!l' " "xi"^ ^'JJ.'"'' "• ^°" "l""'* take me that 
f^^^; .* ^"'- A,^""^ ^" P"t my cards right down in 

hir,nL^°"\^i"'" '' ."°* ^ ^°°'' ^"d yo" couldn't ten 
hira anythmg he doesn't know alreadv. The trouble is he 
can prove nothing He has a tolerably short temper and 
one day he most hammered the life out of another man in 
the Soraasco mjU. That man didn't like him before, and 
Its quite possible he fell fo-,1 of Alton after it, but where 
W.'n fh^* *f^ n me? Got hold of that, haven't you? 
YrL^?h*^AU^ •""'' "^'^ difference between you and me. 
knowr* °"^ °'" *'*'° '^"^' ^"^"^ y°" ^^ '^'<^"'' 

you," Taid" DerlnghS '" '^'^ ""' '='^^"" °' '''' "^"-'"^ 
Hallam laughed. "For a man of business you have a 
plaguy bad memory. Now it seems to me quite likely 
hat the man I talked about has had quite enough of S 
ing with Alton and we'll let what you asked for go at 
«iat, because there's something else we're coming to 
rir/i^ T^ a cheque you gave me. and I had who it was 
drawn by and payable to put down on the slip when I 

after rH'h*i![°,"fV'"\^?!'- ^^ ^'^^ ^°* ^^at slip, and 
atter I d had a talk with him, Alton wouldn't wonder what 
you gave me all those dollars for." 
Deringham was silent almost a minute, for he knew his 
269 



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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

opponent had seen the weak point. Then he said, " If I 
admitted that you were right ? " 

Hallam raised his big hand, and pressed his thumb down 
slowly and viciously on the table. " It don't need admitting. 
I've got you there," he said. " Still, I don't know that I 
want to squeeze you. Well, I once kept Alton out of 
Somasco to please you, and now I want you to keep him 
right here in Vancouver for a while." 

" I could not do it." 

" Well," said Hallam, grinning, " if you couldn't, I figure 
your daughter could." 

Deringham had all along been struggling with a sense 
of disgust, and now his anger mastered him. It was, how- 
ever, the rage of a weak man which is not far removed from 
fear. 

" You infernal scoundrel," he said. 

Hallam laughed brutally. " That may do you good, and 
it makes no difference to me," he said. " I want Alton 
to stop here just three weeks from to-day. He'll stay 
without pressing for two of them, I think — and you've got 
to keep him during the third one. There's nothing going to 
hurt him, but it wouldn't be wise to fool things, you 
understand ? " 

He took up his hat as he spoke, and moved towards 
the door, while Deringham's eyes blazed when it closed 
behind him. 

" Damn him ! " he said, almost choked with impotent fury, 
and then sat down limply with a face that grew suddenly 
blanched. His hand shook as he seized his glass, and some 
of the wine he needed was spilled upon the table, for his eyes 
grew dim as the faintness came upon him. Deringham 
had been recommended a rest from all excitement and busi- 
r ss anxieties before he sailed from England, and passion 
\, 5 distinctly injudicious considering the condition of one 
of his organs. 




270 



'If I 



CHAPTER XXVII 

THE FORCE OF CALUMNY 

As Hallam had surmised, one or two affairs of importance 
detained Alton in Vancouver. The winter had been excep- 
tionally rigorous, and he knew that the claim was guarded 
securely by frost and snow. Having also, he fancied, 
ettectually silenced his indiscreet visitor by flinging him 
down-stairs, he thought no more about that affair, and spent 
one or two evenings pleasantly at Forel's house, where 
Aiice Denngham greeted him with slightly reserved 
cordiality. 

She fancied she understood his reticence on the memor- 
able evening when he had stumbled on the stairway and 
was not altogether displeased by it. He had, it seemed, 
been over-sensitive, for he was but slightlv lame, while she 
had reasons for surmising that he would realize there was 
no great necessity for the self-sacrifice in time. Alice Der- 
mgham was not unduly vain, but she knew her power 
and Alton had in his silence betraved himself again and 
again Still, it seemed only fitting that he should make the 
Jirst advances, now the moment when she might have done 
so had passed. She also fancied she understood the motive 
which prompted his answer when her father spoke to him 
respecting Carnaby. 

" I can't go over now," he said. " Your lawyers and 
agents can look after the place a little longer, and I needn't 
worry if you're content with them. Anvway, all of it does 
not belong to me and we will see what we can fix up 
between us when I go over by and by." 

This was pleasant hearing to Deringham, who commenced 

to hope that he would be able to give a satisfactory account 

ot his stewardship when the time came, and winced at the 

recollection of the folly which had placed him in Hallam's 

271 







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ALTON OF SOMASCO 

grasp. Of late his health had given way again, and that 
served as an excuse for remaining at Vancouver, which he 
had scarcely the courage to leave. 

Aflairs were in this condition when Miss Deringham sat 
listening to the conversation of other visitors in the house of 
a friend of Mrs. Forel's one afternoon. Now and then a 
veiled allusion reached her, and at last she glanced in- 
quiringly at her hostess. 

The lady smiled deprecatingly and shook her head. " It 
is really indiscreet of Helen, but she seems to believe it is 
true, she said. " These things do happen, even in the old 
country. 

Alice Der'ngham laughed. " I am afraid I cannot con- 
trovert you if that is uncomplimentary, because I don't 
know what you are alluding to." 

Her hostess looked thoughtful. "Tnen you haven't 
heard it yet? " she said. " Well, I am not the one to tell 
you, and It is quite possible they haven't got the story 
correctly. -^ 

Miss Deringham was interested, but she asked no more 
questions, and had changed her place when she once more 
heard a subdued voice she recognized behind a great 
lacquered screen. 

" One would be sorry for Hettie Forel, but her husband 
was always a little unguarded. Opened his house to every- 
body, you know." 

"It was the big bushman I saw there?" said another 
person, and Alice Deringham felt a curious little luiver in 
her fingers as she waited the answer. 

" Yes. Hettie will feel it. She made such a fuss of him, 
but It mayn't have been his fault altogether. He is quite 
a good-looking man, if he is a trifle lame, and the girl mav 
have thrown herself at him. They sometimes do." 

Alice Deringham set her lips and turned her head awav 
from her companion as one of the voices continued. 
Hettie has not heard it yet, and Tom did not seem sure 
about It when he told me. In fact, Forel brought the man 
over to see us the night before, but it is quite evident now 
the girl had been living there. Yes, Tom heard he had 
rooms behind his office." 

272 



THE FORCE OF CALUMNY 

colourless as she turned to her companion. ^ ^ 

You heard that woman? " she said. 

impol'slble/""^''""' ''""''' '° '^"^'' ^ ""'^- "I^ut-it is 
Her companion shook her head. "My husband io a 
^nT^I^°^ the company which employed Miss Townshead 
and as the man's business affairs were antagonistic to theirs 
she was dismissed immediately " fc"""!>uc to tneirs 

.ff2-'j"'%^u-'"f'''"^/°""'^ '* ^^'■y difficult to conceal the 
effect of this last blow, and was turning away when two 
women rose from a divan behind the screen ^ The "ea^s 

th^m ^.p' ^ "I^ ^°' '"'"'^ ™°^^ f"-- yo"?" said one of 
them. "Pleased to see you again, Miss Deringham " 

She got no further, for the girl, who looked her fullin the 
face passed on. and the other woman flushed a trifle 

I m afraid she must have heard you," said somebody 

Miss Deringham is, I believe, a connection of Alton's and 

beween ?hl''"r' *m\"^^ ^°"^*'""^ ^°'' *an'that 
W^,? f "'°"''' ^ =" especially suitable match 

because of some property in the old country " 

nni ,9u^^^ "Pn"""* *° ""'''ed somewhat sourly " Then 

It':;^^^'' 'n ' •' 1°^''^ '°'" *« ^^"-^her," she s^aid. 

U cost Miss Deringham a good deal to talk to her hostess 

until she could depart without attracting attention and she 

walked back to Forel's house with a blaze in h™" As 

yet she could not think connectedly, for the aston^shmen 

had left no room for more than vague sensations of dS 

and anger and a horrible rankling of wounded pride Mrs. 

^73 



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Forel as it happened was busy, and the gir! slipped away to 
a room that was seldom occupied and sat there in the 
gathering darkness staring at the fire. The story was, she 
strove to persuade herself, utterly impossible, for she had 
probed the man's character thoroughly^ and seen that it was 
wholesome through all its crudi'ies— and yet it was evident 
the horrible tale must have some foundation, because other- 
wise refutation would be so simple. 

Almost incredible as it was, the belief that <'t was borne 
out by fact was forced upon her, and too dazed to reason 
clearly she shrank with an overwhelming sense of disgust. 
She had, it seemed, wilfully deceived herself, and the man 
was, as she had fancied at the beginning, without sensibility 
or refinement, brutal in his forcefulness, and swayed by 
elementary passions. Then she writhed under the memory 
of the occasions on which she had unbent somewhat far to 
him, and the recollection of two incidents in the sickroom 
stung her pride to the quick ; while when the booming of a 
gong rolled through the house, she rose faint and cold with 
an intensity of anger that for the time being drove out any 
other feeling. It would have gcr.e very hardly with Alton 
had chance afforded her the means of punishiner him iust 
then. ^ •■ 

As fate would have it the opportunity was also given her, 
for that evening Deringham, who had heard nothing of the 
story, was able to secure a few minutes alone with his 
daughter. He was, she noticed, looking unusually pale and 
ill, and that reminded her that he owed all his anxieties to 
Alton. 

" Our kinsman is going back to Somasco very shortlv, and 
then on into the ranges. I wish he could be prevented," he 
said. 

The girl laughed a little. " I think it would be difficult 
to prevent Mr. Alton doing anything he had decided on." 

"Yes," said Deringham. "He can be exasperatingly 
obstinate, but — and I put it frankly — he ri ght listen to yoti. 
The journey he contemplates would be apt to prove perilous 
at this season." 

Alice Deringham looked at her father with a smile the 
meaning of which he could not fathom. He did not know 

274 



THE FORCE OF CALUMNY 

that she had of late been disturbed by unpleasant susoicions 
concerning his connection with Hallam suspicions 

by a Ve^e^ Ks'sat^f ""• ''°" '"'^ °^ ^""""^ '""— ^ 
scernkTsm Tu^'h^"''' ^ ■■ ''\r=°F!«d the tone of sardonic 
no7affordto fail ""' '°"'"^ ''^""* °^ «='"^"'' ''"'» =°""» 

afrliH'l''!!'! '^'i '^'"' ! ?^''""« °f weariness, " I am 
S. "'"'t 'P=''5e an admission. I am hemmed in by 
almost overwhelming anxieties, and I have come to no 
understanding yet with Alton respecting Carnaby Now if 
vttieatio°;oJTh'' r" in the ranges it^would ei^tail an in- 
iTffl^ f^ ^^'""i^y ^'^^'"' ="^1 the withdrawal of a 
feriouslv L^ """"'^ I'r- ""y companies, which would 
TJTr ^^^' '"^- ^ •'^^^ °"<=e o"" twice had to slightly 
exceed my duties as trustee, and Alton would approve of 
steps I have taken which a lawyer or accountant wou?d 
consider irregular Of course, if you had any knowTedge 
of business I cou d make it more clear to you, but I cfn 
only tell you that I am anxious about Alton's safety for my 
own sake as well as his." ^ ' 

DaHeii'it^^"'^''^"' '"'"''' ^Tt"^f ''■"' ^'th a trace of im- 
patience. We may as well be honest, and I fancy Mr 
Alton IS used to risks," she said quietly. " Whether he 

s; no^rcrnXr-' ^'-^^ "°- - °''--'- '^ ^''- 

res&to'™ orbyt ''"^''' ■" "^^ '"<» --''-<=<'. ^ut 
me '^hTs"aid '" ^^^^ ''^'''^ ^ ""'^ '°"^^''" ^' '* important to 

thlJ^^, ^"^ ,f "^ ^^t hand of Hallam in this, and surmised 
that It would not be to Alton's advantage if he postponed 
his journey, but she was vindictively bitter ag^nst hta 
hen, and glanced at her father inquiringly. It was evideS 
,h : u^^^ anxious and ill, and she was sensible of a pity 
■ 'c ^1 y/' ^ f^'^^ °f contempt in it for him. ^ ^ 

btill, I do not see how I could induce him to remain " 
snc saiQ. ' 

.'.' We'l," said Deringham slowly, "there is a way. Forel 
•..ii be here in a minute— but if you would listen to me." 

27s 




1- 

.1 r * 



i:« 



ff" 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

Deringham seemed to find a difficulty in commencing 
and there was a curious expression in his restless eyes 
while once or twice he stopped and proceeded somewhat 
mconsequently He had made tools of a good many men 
and befooled the public without any especial scruples, but 
there was a shred of pride left him, and this was the first 
time he had stooped to drag his daughter into his schemes. 
His story lacked plausibility, and the girl was not deceived, 
but he was her father, and it was his cause she was asked 
to further against the man who had humiliated her and ,'is- 
possessed him. She glanced away from him when he I.ad 
linished, but her voice was quietly even. 

" I think I shall be sorry for it ever afterwards, but I will 
do what you ask," she saM. 

Deringham, who was slightly bewildered by something ip 
her attitude, sighed wiih .e!ief, and then turned with the 
grotesque resemblance cf a smile in his face to greet Forcl 
who came in. 

" Gillard has been called away south on business ana has 
sent me word he can let me have the places at the opera- 
house for both nights," he said. " No doubt you have seen 
the great man in England with his regular company, but 
a treat of the kind is appreciated here, and Gillard bought 
up a row of places, the best in the house. My wife is 
wondering who she should ask, and would like to know if 
Miss Deringham has any preference." 

Deringham glanced at his daughter, and then smiled at 
his host. One feels a little diffide- t about returning a 
favour at somebody else's expense, but my kinsman Alton 
was very kind to us in the bush," he said. 

Forel appeared a trifle embarrassed, and Alice Deringham 
felt her neck grow warm as she watched him. " We can 
talk about it later, but I scarcely think Mr. Alton would 
come just now if he was asked," he said. 

The girl turned away, for she could comprehend Ford's 
discomfiture, while as they followed him her father touched 
her. 

"Get Mr. Alton there on the second night, and that is all 
I ask," he said. 
It was two days late when Alton returned to his office 
276 



THE FORCE OF CALUMNY 

liousftTrnr^' uncertain temper. He had called at Forel's 
house the previous evenitifr, and been informed that Mrs 

made Tt evTdent thT' f""^*^ ""^ '"'''' ">' "f^hts and musTc 
^fo ! u 1 J* ,"'*' *'"^ ^'='* entertaining a good manv 

vances a f^"d',?'^'"^"^ ^""',"^'° ™'''= '"■" "rtaraS- 
vances a few days earher, and when he came to complete 

ward? ht°1i T"^ ^■''""y ""^'^P'^^ed difficulties A? e ' 
wards he called upon a dealer in tools and sawmill 

whh hTm'^'n'"'"'' i'" P^fessing his willingness to dea 
with him on usual easy terms, demanded a chen-ie with 

£'ifc:tis3tie:^;iSt;^1 

l^^rwheTthey'stMr'-^^' ^"^ °"^-= ='""^'' -«>- 

si^ed'toVTm^ ''-T^**'^ ^°"''^°' '•"= '^^^P^-- °f the building 
3" 1,1 .,•?• « J^i™ "?' * >'°""S man here asking for 
L back a^fn." "" ^' ^'' ^'■- Townshead, and he'd 

broker L'^hf/n^T'^ "''^"^'^ ^'' "^^^ ^^'^ ^ P^duce 
fi St two o^^l ''? '"^!, '^'"' "'"'" '"■ " I'^« ^^"■■'^e'' off the 
saM ":?M " °?.^'' ='"'' y°" <^^" '^"d some more along." he 
Itl^U * u • '* ? "°' 1"'*^ "y business, but if youMI not 
stand out about the usual commission I can put you on to a 
man who wants a hundred fat cattle." ^ ^ ^ 

visitor' whom''!/"''' 4't°"- glancing thoughtfully at his 
tw„i° ' I ^^ considered an honest man. " Now I 
thnk you know a good deal about all that goes on in This 

anv ?« f^f '" '^t'' "'«,°"'^'- -"an, " I have to. Glad to be of 
any use to you I can. 

Win'rl^f''" '.^'<'/'t°n' "I've notice men smilmg at me 
kind of curiously and I want tj know right off whafs 

hrfipl''^" '° P^f '* ^"-^'gh'. there are folks who would not 
believe you. No, stop a little, I mentioned nothing about 

^77 






;i. 



ill 

I!! 



f 



fl 




II ii 



!!lf^ 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

myself. Have you done anything lately that might have 
hurt the susceptibilities of Mr. Carticr ? " 

Alton laughed grimly. " Yes," he said, " I hope so. I 
hove him out of this place one night and he fell down- 
stairs." 

" Well," said the other man, smiling, " that accounts for 
a good deal. Do you happen to be on good terms with 
Mr. Hallam? Cartier is." 

" No," said Alton dryly, " I don't. When Mr. H dlam 
and I feel at peace one of us v/ill be dead." 

" Now. this thing is getting a little more clear to me. 1 
wasn't willing to believe all I heard, anyway." 

'■ That," said Alton, " does not concern me. The question 
is what did you hear? " 

The other man appeared embarrassed and sat silent a 
space. " I think it's only right that you should know," he 
said. " Well— according to Cartier— there was a lady hero 
when he came in close on midnight, and he gave folks the 
impression that she stayed here altogether. That wouldn't 
.)0ssibly have counted for so much, but it also got about 
that she made use of her place to give you information 
that was worth a good deal about the business of Hallam 
and the folks she worked for." 

Alton's face grew almost purple, but the dark hue faded 
and left it unusually pale again. "That," he said very 
slowly, " is a damnable lie. The lady alluded to was hero 
once only, and for at the most three minutes." 

The other man grew a trifle uneasy under his gaze. 
" Of course," he said, " your word will do for me. Still, slic 
was here, you see — and it's diflScult to rub out a lie with 
that much behind it. I'm afraid you'll find it stick to voit 
both like glue, especially as her employers turned the Rirl 
out immediately. Anyway, I'll do what I can for you, and 
now about that other car-load and the cattle ? " 

Alton brought his hand down crashing^ on the table. 
"The cattle? Oh, get out and come back to-morrow or 
next month, when I feel less like killing somebody ! " 

The other man appeared qui.e willing to accept his dis- 
missal, and Alton vacantly noticed that a black stream of 
in' was trickling across the table. Mechanically he dabbled 

278 



table. 



THE FORCE OF CALUMNY 

his handkerchief in it and then flung H and the ink-vessel 
into the grate, after which he sat still with a black sta?n 
uponthe cheek that rested on his fist. " 

he s3d' "'l^'^rH h"!' '""'C'"! '^'y'^"^ '""''' her out," 
He did i:?f 1 ' someboay has got to pay for this ! " 
He did not move for at least ten minutes, while the 

th^lli l*" "'y ^""■"'*'' '^'°"Sh the silent r^m! and 
when his first anger passed away became sensible of a ^eat 
P''y *°' 'he girl who had risked so much for him^ I 

oFK^t""'^ T P';"'f •""= "^^' '^""''= °f 'he Scum 
tLT^J ""*' ^"1!"''"' °" 'he lie would stick to both of 
them, and row when it was too late Alton regretted his 
folly. He :iad been fully justified in kicking Cartier out of 
not^'?"''K^"* '^1''"'=* '^^' everything thaf is legitimate "s 
"n,/th '.?*"=• ^1'' ^'°^?"^ =^ he saw what the toTmus? 
rost the defenceless gi-1 who had a living to earn 2id her 
lather to maintain. There was so far as he could see no 

hiZT °^ "',' ''"^'^""/ ^^'-^"d 'he one tha° concerned 
himself was alp.ost as formidable, for he knew Alice Der 
■ngham's pride, and the damning fact remaTned that he 
could not deny the whole story. remained that he 

He had flung himself back wearily in his chair when 
there was a step in the passage and a young man came h, 
AhonW^hl'T^f^* ^°™"d. and stood witli^ne hand on 
^ Ms fare h""""^ '^°^" °" ''™ ^"h bonder and anger 
m his face. His eyes were unusually bright, and there w« 
a great contusion on his forehead 

T'li r^yju"^ '^"°" ^''"P'y' " Well, sit down there and 

OnlJl; *° fll° y-°"- '^^'' '' ^ devlish mess IVe got'into 

T ll^^ ^^"' '' 'e" minutes ago." ^ 

Jack Townshead did not move at all. " I'll stand in the 

^cr/d tSaV^i"^""'^- "Unfortunately therrate'U^: 

^VWa^ittC"?^'""''- "°°"''-^''- I-^now. 

nilhT*'^*'* ^y°"^ 'he question." said the lad. " Still last 
night one of our men who'd bep- " -vn here camV fn in!5 

JTim d wn^ l\r'r '''' "^y -Vsh'ed'rkSd 

mm down— that is. I meant to, . ' started out by the first 

tram. I'm at the mine on the south road now." ^ '"^ ""' 

279 



w 




ill I" 






If'f 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

" You haven't been home? " 

" No," said Townshead grimly. " I came straight to you, 
and in the first place you're coming with me everywhere to 
deny this story. 

Alton sat vcr still for a space, and the lad seemed to 
quiver as he watched him. " I can't — that is, not all of it." 

Every trace of colour faded from Jack Townshead's face. 
" Good Lord ! Damn you, Alton — it can't be true." 

..\lton rose up slowly and stretched his hand out, while the 
veins swelled out on his forehead. Then lie dropped it 
again. 

" You'll be sorry for this by and by, Jack," he said. 
" Don't you know your sister better — you fool ? Now sit 
down there, and I'll tell you everything." 

The lad was evidently spirited, but he was a trifle awed 
by what he saw in Alton's eyes, and did as he was bidden. 
The hoarse voice he listened to carried conviction with it, 
but his face was almost haggard when the story ••• con- 
cluded. " Now," said Alton very slowly, " that . i, and 
for your sister's sake you dare not disbelieve me." 

Jack Townshead groaned. " Thank God," he sai with 
a tremor in his voice. " But, Harry, what is to be i.jne? 
I simply can't tell the old man — and there's Nellie. You 
can't deny sufficient to be any good — and the cursed thing 
will kill her. Now I'm trying not to blame you — but there 
must be a way of getting out somehow — and it's for you to 
find it." 

Alton leaned upon the table a trifle more heavily, his eyes 
half-closed, and one hand clenched. 

" Yes," he said slowly. " There is a way — and I'm be- 
ginning to see it now. Get your hat. Jack, and in the first 
place we'll go right along i nd see Mr. Cartier." 

The lad rose, and then, possibly because he was over- 
strung and needed relief in ime direction, laughed harshly. 
" I think you had better wa^h your face before you go," he 
said. 

Twenty minutes later they entered an '>ffice together and 
Alton signed to a clerk. " Tell Mr. Cartier I'm wanting to 
see him right now," he said. " You know who I am." 

The man smiled, for he probably also grasped the purport 

2S0 



THE FORCE OF CALUMNY 

'*Th»t^' ^J 4,"'' "^^"^ *"°" '" ^'"oi-ia yesterday." 
That, said Alton gri.nly, " was wise of him " ^ 

"llh>fT'. ""!•■""'' ""^ '"^ «'='""'' at his companion. 
It .soHhe least m,portance. There is more to be done ! " 

lack but i^.f n ? ""'f^K- '■'^'°" ''='^« "'y sympathy. 

SatnryJher^'an^d^r XeTc^l^;?^^^^ 



i 



281 



CHAPTER XXVIII 



«i: 





1 




•|! 


\ 




; 





m 



II 



i!j|. 



ALTON FINDS A WAY 

Daylight Wc.s fading, and it was growing dim in the 
little upper rooii where Miss Townshead sat alone. The 
front of the stove was, however, open, and now and then a 
flicker of radiance fell upon the girl, and showed that her 
eyes were hazy, and there were traces of moisture on her 
cheek. Her patience had been taxed to the uttermost that 
day, but Town 'lead, who had spent most of it in querulous 
reproaches, ha ' gone out, and his daughter was thankful to 
be alone at last, for the effort to retain a show of composure 
had become almost unendurable. 

It was with a sinking heart she glanced down across the 
roofs of the city into the busy streets where already the 
big lights were blinking, and remembered all she had borne 
with there during the last few days. Somebody, it seer/.cd, 
had industriously spread the story of her dismissal, .wi 
a refusal had followed every application she made for 
employment; but while that alone was sufficient to cause 
her consternation, the half-contemptuous pity of her former 
companions, and the fashion in which one or two of them 
had avoided her, were almost worse to bear, and sitting: 
alone in the gathering darkness the girl flushed crimson at 
the memory. There was also the grim question by what 
means she could stave off actual want to grapple with, and 
to that she could as yet find no answer, while her eyes grew 
dim as she glanced about the little room. Townshead had 
changed his quarters, and many of the trifles that caught 
his daughter's glance had cost her a meal or hours of labour 
with the needle after a long day in the city, but they made 
the place a home, and she knew what it would cost her to 
part with them. 

Twice she had raised her head and straightened herself 

282 



ALTON FINDS A WAY 

."io heVeKs'^'onK'to S*" °! ""'^ '"" ^-°'"'-" -ept 
when the?e was a taoofnt ^. ..^^"." '™P'^ '" ^'' ^^air, 
some one came into ?he?fom t/°°I:' '"^ "'^^ ^"^"^ =»■' 

invisiWe "^ *"'° P"'P°'"' f°^ her own was now 

tes;tn"mrc" J:? ""s'h JsaT"'' "'^"^"'^ "'"^ -™ — 
wanled"to'"se''e%ou""'' «f^^^%S"t"'-e of deprecation. "I 

Nellie Trwnra7tcSLT''7'^"^P'^^^^ ^'' ^°^"-" 
glad that it was in Z.hl^ ^^'J ""^l"'^^ °"'- ^«' was 
against the Irndow c *Llookin^ down 'f "h'*°°'? l''"'"^ 
respect and pity in his fece ^ ''"" '^'"' 8:rave 

asJhLThto'iL^fe^ffl.-^ -^^ heard." he said. 

in his ^-rlZn t, shKl "^'■>'/°"e«ed as lo ^lanwd 
taught already ihat when «n t ^°°^ '°""^e' ^'"^ ''ad been 
to flee it Sy '^'''" ^" "'"^ '= unavoidable it is better 

, "No^:a°;;,'i^LT:;e;iii"^'^.^:^^^* r ^-"-^ °''^--" 
-^^r^^^n-dSr^^S/r 

directness was in a fasWnJ ■* ^"0^*^ man's naive 
a moment, very angry ^^assurmg. She was also, for 

. " It is a little sudden, is it not' " she «;h " n-j t 

"Vo°" :aTd aT '?.^^^"^r'"^ ■that1^"^^^^^^ 

JMO, said Alton, I don't think you 



283 



: you did." 



t Ei: -H 



1(1 






• i 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

Nellie Townshead afterwards wondered a little at her 
composure and temerity, but she fancied she knew what 
had prompted the man, and, because it hurt her horribly, 
all the pride she had came to her assistance, and in place 
of embarrassment she was sensible of a desire to test him 
to the uttermost. 

" Then," she said, " one should have a reason for asking 
such a question, ?,r\d, at least, something to urge in support 

Alton moved forward, and leaned over the back of her 
chair, where because he did most things thoroughly he 
attempted to lay one hand caressingly on her hair. Miss 
Townshead. however, moved her head suddenly, and the 
man drew back a pace with a flush in his face. 

" It is very lonely up at the ranch, and I have begun to 
see that I have been missing the best of life. Mine is 
too grim and bare, and I want somebody to brighten and 
sweeten it for me." 

The girl was very collected. What she had borne during 
the last few days had turned her gentleness into bitternes.s 
and anger. Thus it was, with a curious dispassionate 
interest she would have been incapable of under different 
circumstances, she continued to try the man, realizing that 
though it was no doubt unpleasant to him, there was one 
great reason which precluded the possibility of his suffering 
as he would otherwise have done. 

I' But you are going to live in the city now," she said. 
Yes," said Alton gravely. " That is why I want you 
more. You see I know so little, and there is so much you 
could teach me. I want somebody to lead me where I 
could not otherwise go, though I know it is asking a great 
deal while I can give so little." 

This, the girl realized, was, though somewhat impersoii.il. 
wholly genuine. The tone of chivalrous respect rang triio, 
and she could comprehend the half-instinctive straining 
after an ideal by one whose belief in her sex was. if sli!jlitl\ 
crude, almost reverential. It touched her, though she knew 
that to benefit him it could only be offered to one woman, 
and she was not that one. 

" And that is all ? " she said. 

2S4 



ALTON FINDS A WAY 

waits atatr;." • '"°"' ^""^ " ="■"= *« -« ^^^^ 't still 
that in her Itttode : fch hdd Alton*" aT^.^'".' '""^ ^f 

evJs'' K,!i^K' '^'". "°"' "'°'"« ^'■s'b'e in Nellie Townshead's 
e)es, but her voice was gentle. " No." she said "'There 

28s 



I. 



f 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



I 



m- I 



are two very good reasons why it is impossible— and you 
know one of them. Now do you believe I do not know 
what brought you here to-day ? " 

" I think I have been trying to tell you," said Alton 
sturdily. " If you lancy it was anything else you are 
wrong." 

The girl shook her head. " You are a good man, Harry 
Alton, but not a clever one. Only that it would have been 
a wrong to you, you would almost have persuaded me — 
by your silence chiefly. Still, you must go away, and never 
speak of this again." 

Alton stood still a moment glancing at her with pity and 
a great admiration. The girl was good to look upon, he 
knew her courage, and now as she flung all that he could 
offer her away and stood alone and friendless with the 
world against her, but undismayed, all his heart went out 
to her, and what he had commenced from duty he could 
almost have continued from inclination. 

" Please listen just a little, and I'll be quite frank," he 
said. " You told me there were two reasons." 

Possibly the girl read what was passing in his mind, for 
she smiled curiously. 

" I think you had better go — now — and leave me only a 
kindly memory of you. Do you think I should be content 
to take — the second place? " she said. " Nothing that you 
could tell me would remove one of the obstacles, and you 
will be grateful presently. When that time comes be wise, 
and don't ask for less than everything." 

Alton said nothing further, and when his steps ran? 
hollowly down the st?irway the gir' sat down and sighed. 
Then she laughed a cuiicus little laugh and stopped to 
brush the tears from her eyes. 

As it happened, while Nellie Townshead sat alone in tlie 
darkness Miss Deringham was writing a note to Alton. 
Spoiled sheets of papei were scattered about the table, and 
though there was nobody to see it the girl's face was 
flushed as she glanced down at the last one. The message 
it bore was somewhat laconic and ran, " We are going to 
the opera-house on Thursday, and as there is a place not 
filled I would like to see you there before you start for 

286 



ALTON FINDS A WAY 



the ranges, if you know of 



no reason why you should not 



She 



fr'th' '° " .r!^'-!r,^ ''' f "' ""'.'■ =he heard a door 



jr^.l.. -en. OS ,„«„, JS2,.";t.;5n-Po'v'?S 

c;„^f"!u'^!''"¥''^'" '^='' justified, for a few davs later 
Sea forth stood waiting in the snow with a pack-horse's 
bndle m h>s hand, and several brawny men with heavy 
do': fZ^h^T *'■" ''r ">'• ^-h- Tom of Okana^a^ 
haKfoIttVl^ag'n" '' '''' '' "'= -""^'"^ team co'uld 
" T?""" "" 'i'"^. ^" ^''O^e *ings down again " he said 
Hlr';°?n°o"tc°^lng"^'''^ ^ ^''^ ^^^ the^aiirc!:r:;d 

th:[J^sjr^W^:!;^^SJ'-^--^ he opened 

wifh / '^^""f aniwent to the opera-house on Thursday 
with a somewhat distinguished partv, and though a storm 
P L:"^':"" foTuiar ''^ ^-'■'-' Engh-sh dramTtfst, LdZ 
a^ nf^-f tP°P"'^/ °"f' "a"' ^ery httle of him or the first 
lift J^'" '^^^" ^^^ S'itter of h-ghts filled the building 
^^1./""*^'"=^?' ''°^" 'he looked^bout her with yeiled 
expectancy. She knew Alton of Somasco, and that if he n- 

287 



v 



i'l 




ALTON OF SOMASCO 

tended to keep the assignation he would then come when 
everybody could see him. 

She had also surmised correctly, for just then Alton, who 
had shouldered his way through a group in the corridor, 
moved down it under a blaze of light, his head erect, and 
his face somewhat grim as he saw the smiles and glances 
of disapproval of those who made way for him. As the 
rancher who was fighting Hallam and the capitalists behind 
mm he was already known in that citv, and the story that 
the woman who was spoken of with him had assisted him 
from the beginning by betraying the secrets of those who 
employed her at his instigation had spread, and told against 

Alton saw it all, and did not for a moment turn aside so 
long as the smiles and whispers were directed at him, but 
he stopped and waited, leaning on a chair some distance 
behind the spot where Forel's party were until the curtain 
rose again. The next act commenced, as he knew, with a 
right scene, and while most of the audience had no eyes 
for any one but the great tragedian, he moved forward 
quickly, and Alice Deringham turned her head a trifle as a 
shadowy form slipped into the vacant place beside her. 
bhe could scarcely see the man, and was not certain that 
she desired to, but she would have known who he was had 
he been wholly invisible. 

" It is you," she said softly. " I knew that you would 
come. 

" Yes," said Alton. " You asked me to, but now I know 
that I should not have done so." 

"And that I .should not have asked you?" said Alice 
Deringham. "You should have been on your iournev 
already. ^ 

Alton laughed a little. " That was not what I meant— 
as of course you know," he said. " Still, I wanted to see 
you — and I had to come." 

"Why?" 

Alton was silent a little. " It may be the last time." 

Alice Deringham shivered. " But there is no reason' " 
No— and yes." said Alton grimly. " I— and it is due 
to you and another to tell you this— have done no wronj?, 
288 



■il 



but th 



ALTON FINDS A WAY 



^^^^^;^:^^::!:iI.:!:T!i-- r-^e n,,se. 



■ company 
to-morro " 



But," said the pirl. feeling 1„ 



going back up there into 'th 



' into 
ic snow 



riblv 



guilty. 



times when one's friends ran 7l„' ;, ■'■ *5"",'-';' ""^'"« 

,. Ah.n seemed to iS Ttrt l-^C^^I^^l "t\^ , 
still, 1 do not care fn ti-r.i,Ki„ ™- • -, '■"• ne said. 

V.*" »?SS. "iLTilS t.LT"i '"' «"" "" 

any one when the curtain c-int .ll '' ''^'■>' ''"'« ^° 

^^|i^a^^-S^.t;^-^tlr3-"^ 

Alton.. " It is onTvlrfto te iTo^'^ a for".' •"•"'' '''^ 
two I joined vour party " • '""^ ^ ""'""'« O"" 

Yoii can draw on 'm^fo^;;; I^i"; ^tVnTeS .^° '"• 
rorel, who was a good-tempered man, flS", Httle 
289 



«J! 




ALTON OF SOMASCO 

" If there was anything in the stories I should take this 
very ill." 

" Of course," said Alton. " I shouldn't have objected if 
you had knocked me down, but, as I see you are not quite 
sure yet, for just five minutes you have got to listen to me." 

Forel did so, and nodded when Alton concluded, " I 
think you should do what I want you to, because in the 
first place it will give you very little trouble, and if you 
can't take my word so far, I'm not fit to be trusted with 
your interests in the big deal we have in hand." 

" And in the second ? " said Forel. who stood to benefit 
considerably by the success of the Somasco Consolidated, 
dryly. 

Alton laughed. " I think it would be more tosteful to 
leave that unexpressed, because it's connected with the 
other one," he said. 

" Well," said Forel, " frankly, I should have doubted 
what you have told me had it come from most other men, 
but in this case I will see what I can do. We are, as it 
happens, in want of somebody at Westminster, and I'll 
send them down a line to-morrow." 

" Thanks," said Alton, with a little sigh of relief. " Now 
I think I've straightened up everything, and I can go back 
to the ranges contented." 



j • 1 j t 






ago 



CHAPTER XXIX 



THE PRICE OF DELAY 

Tom "^f'ntl"'"^ "''"' P'"],"' persistency when Alton and 
vaZ T?e roTofT' flounderinK down into the river 
vaiiey. ihe roar of the canon rose n ijreat reverberations 
from out of the haze beneatli them, and all the p nes werl 
tTohuf'^'ru" "•=•" ^'"'^^'^'^ wearily kne"deepn 
come suSv ^''V"""^ ^'^'='' ""^«" '" ^he North had 
come suddenly, and a warm wind from the Picifie wa^ 
nieltmg the snow so that the hillsides r"n water and ^he 

.J^^ "'^", ^^""^ ?'''"^'' t° the backbone, for it had rained 

tTon .nH H- ^ been accomplished by stubborn determina- 
e« .1^ disregard of pain. Still, it was not physicardis- 
tress alo.,e which accounted for his gravity He had nut 
was scinTT^ '° *!.'^'^^' nioment.^nd ^ow when tiC 
Thev h,H\*^ T^*^^" P™"^''"' '° f"^*er delay him 
bro^ett'sifen'c^^' ' ™"^"' ''^^^''"^^^' ^^en oJnagrn 

snmSr'eC/" L"'^T%r''- ''"'' ^''^^'^^ ^eaforth 

It can't be helped," he said, and Tom of Okanagan, who 
391 



*ii1l I 





ALTON OF SOMASCO 

saw how grim his face had grown, understood the reason. 
If Hallain s emissaries liad gone up before them any further 
delay might cost Alton the mine. 

Nothing was said for another minute, and then Okanagan 
pomtcd to a dim smear of vapour below them that was a little 
bluer than the mist 

" Smoke. Charley's held up by the river," he said. 
They went on in moody silence, knowing that where the 
hardy rancliers Seaforth had with him had failed there was 
little probability of any man forcing a passage, and presently 
the smell of burning firwood came up to them through 
the rain Then a red flicker appeared and vanished amidst 
the dusky trunks, and in another few minutes Alton was 
shaking his comrade's hand. The faces of both of them 
were unusually grave, and there was dejection in the growl 
of greeting from the men, who sat half seen amidst the 
smoke watching them. 

" That's the whole of us," said Seaforth, who noticed his 
comrade's glance. " We can't get on." 

"How long have you been here?" said Alton, with 
significant quietness. 

" Two days. It's unfortunate you didn't come earlier, 
Harry, because we could have got right through a week 
ago. Was it the leg that kept you ? " 

" No," said Alton, with a little mirthless laugh, " it 
wasn't the leg. I should have come, but one can't alwavs 
do two things at once, and I had to choose. I've a good 
deal to tell you." 

Seaforth glanced sharply at his comrade. " I fancioH 
you had. You are not the man I left at Vancouver, Ham. 
Well, you will be hungry, and supper's almost ready." 

It was several hours later, and the men in the bigger tent 
were fast asleep, when Seaforth and Alton sat swathed in 
clammy blankets under a little canvas shelter. The drip 
from the great branches above beat upon it, and the red 
light of the snapping fire shone in upon the men. Neitln ■ 
of thern had spoken for some time, but at last Alton laid 
down his pipe. 

" This is a thing I wouldn't tell to any man if it could 
be helped, but as you will hear it told the wrong way when 

292 



THE PRICE OF DELAY 

you get back to the city, you have pot to know," he said 
Id have been where 1 was wante.lif it hadn't happened 

awav"°"'lt hf: ' "'"' '^-^''T ' 'l.^^'^ »--■-' >"" -d tl.e esi 
wouM hi T """■ ^''"'7- •"" «''^« =""''1 1 do? It 
crdemnerfot:^. ^"^^'^ '° '^' '*" «""- -«" f- -X 

Seaforth was in no mood for laughter, but his eves 
twmkled faintly. " Two of them? You have been ecttw 
on tolerably fast down there, Horry " ^ ^ 

Alton stepped him with a Resti'ire. " My temper's not 

still and listen to me. 

died^Ilf'^.f l""]^ commenced his story when the smile 
died out of Seaforth s eyes. Me .seemed to listen with 
breathless mtentness, an<l his voice shook a little as he said, 

mn.^l^'?J! f u'^ ^"^ '?„'"=''■'■>■ J°"- Did you think for a 
moment that she would ? 

s.;h"°"t?'"'"^'', "? ^'■■^"''^'•- ■' I didn't think at all," he 
■■Tu ".fcmed the one thing I could do, and I did it." 
Se.fnrth"^,^^'"'^"'^''^ ■""'^'^ difference in you," said 
hln I ' ^^="i'""g his comrade intentlv. " It must have 
been a load off your mind when she refused vom ' " 

Alton straightened himself a little. " I don't like the 
way you put it, Charley Whoever gets Miss Town.shead 
will have a treasure. The girl's good all through. Now I 
beireve ml" ^■°" '"'='->*'"8^' ''"^ I don't ask if you 

There was a flicker of warmer colour under Seaforth's 
bronze, and a curious glint in his eves. 

Yes," he said slowly: " I think she is too good even 

expected of you, without keeping up the farce anv longer 

rn.^M ^ •?",''"' T ""'^ '^ ^ '^""'•^d vou-because I 
tZiJ t"?''"'^' '''"'^ forgiven you that question. Do you 
tliink I don't know— both of vou— better' " 

The last words vvere a trifle strained, and Alton stared 
hL, K ^"'"'^de in bewildered astonishment, for Seaforth 
haa betrayed himself in his passion. Then there was 
silence for a full minute until he said very quietly— 
And I never guessed." 

293 



If III 




ti;?! 



ii 
1 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

"No? " said Seaforth, still a trifle hoarsely. " And now 
I think you know." 

Alton nodded, and there was a very kindly smile in his 
eyes. "Yes; I'm beginning to understand- a good deal," 
he said. " I'm very glad, for there arc not many girls like 
Miss Townshcad in tlie Dominion. Charley, you're a lucky 
man, but why have you been so long over it? It never 
struck mc that you were bashful." 

Seaforth smiled mirthlessly. " If you will listen a few 
minutes you will sec how fortunate I am. You never 
asked me what brought me out from the old country, 
Harry." 

Alton gravely pressed his arm. " There are times when 
one must talk. Go on, if it will do you good," he said. 

It was not an uncommon story Seaforth told that night, 
V and Alton, who had heard it, slightly varied, .several timis 
already, could fill up the ga\>y, \\W ^ his coiaradc ceased 
and the drip from the branches splasliing upon the canv.is 
replaced his disjointed utterance. Seaforth was very young 
when it happened and the woman older than him. 

" Now you see what kept me silont. It wasn't a nice 
thing to tell — you," he said. 

Alton glanced at him with grave sympathy, and then 
stared at the fire. "And what became of her? I saw 
her picture once — in a twenty-five cent album." he said. 
" A woman of that kind would know what she was about? " 

Seaforth smiled wryly. " I was not the only fool," ho 
said. " When I'd flung away everything a richer man came 
along." 

Alton yyas silent a space. " Three thousand pounds." 
he said, " is a good deal, even in the old country." 

" Yes," said Seaforth wearily ; " though it goes a very 
little way as I spent it, it is, and I've been paying it back, 
at first a few dollars at a time, ever since I carne out to the 
Dominion. You see, the old man paid ofJ everything, 
though I know now money was very scarce with him then. 
and I've wondered sometimes how far it helped to break 
him. He died soon after the crash came — and the girls 
had nothing." 
" I think you told me your sisters were married now ? " 
294 



THE PRICE OF DELAY 



"Yes," said Scaforth 
exchange somewhat indifmantl 



able to take niv sliare 
is a little outside th 



Flora sent mc back the last 



vhich 



as why I was 



in the Consolidated. Still, all that 



Alton 



smiled at h 



V (|ncstir)n, isn't it? 



for a good many more like v.n, in the Dominio'i r Vv.L 

the'ridagaTn"" '''"' ^'"'«'^' "I^' C'-'^^' -^ ^ac^ 
tH'::!r\ !^^..rl^ ,;:7-^ '-""= '-hat it isn't 

thin^°i"thti1'H""-. ■' ^^""i,'°^ ""' ^'^' '° '1° the square 
told^mi fl i^ r*''"" '^"'ng somebody the story you 
differTnti; " "^^ °^ ^°""^ ^""'^ have to'put partsVf it 

afraM^'^L™*?.' 1 """= ^"'"^^ °f despondencv. " I'm 
afra^I haven t the courage, and-with all that behind 

it 'woul/';;;;^'?!"''/' '^'"^ '^"°"- "^"'^ somehow I fancv 

Seaforth appeared to check a groan "There are 

hmgs that one can never quite rub out I w. twent •! 

^Inn ■ Tu ""l^ """" ^hen it is five vears ago and she s 

ft^ al^" ?"' horrible city, I must keep silent^'s iM H.'r 

ts almost unendurable, but. because I must tell that >r -v-' 

Mon nolT"-'.' '" *'"°" ■">' '''' chance awav.' '' ' 
you' e riXt . H ""■'* ^'^"^ ^^'"''^'hy "Yes, I think 
;„ \xr]^ b ^"'' y°" '""■"* »'3't- Well, it's time to turn 
.n. W.th the first of the daylight we're going on again " 

Me was asleep m another ten minutes, but Seaforth lav 

thrn, 'J i °"-' ^''^"?^ ''hen he heard his comrade's voic- 
through the patter of the rain in the misty darkness of the 

295 






i 









ALTON OF SOMASCO 

early morning. They made four miles that day, and 
Houndered waist-deep in water amidst the boulders during 
most of It. The hillsides above them were steep and almost 
unclimbable, and no man could have driven a canoe up- 
stream amidst the grinding ice-cake which cumbered the 
river that was frozen still in its slower reaches. There 
they found better travelling through the slush that covered 
the rotten ice, but those reaches were few and short, and 
they went back to the boulders when the swollen river 
burst its bonds again. 

It came down in savage tumult between the rocks, whose 
heads just showed above the foam, and its banks were 
further cumbered by a whitened driftwood frieze over 
which the men must Ci<imbcr warily, clawing for a foothold 
on the great battered trunks, or smashing through a tangle 
of brittle hmbs. At times they were stopped altogether bv 
a maze of washed-up timber no man could struggle through' 
and the axes were plied for an hour or more before thev 
went on again. 

The second day was like the first one, though their toil 
was if anything more arduous still, and on the evening of 
the fourth they came, worn out, dripping, and dejected 
to a spot where the valley narrowed in. A strip of forest 
divided the rock from the river on the opposite shore but 
between them and it a confusion of froth and foam swirlc.i 
down, while the hillsides seemed to vibrate with the roar 
of the rapid. One glance sufficed to show that the crossing 
was wholly impossible for either beast or man On their 
side of the river a wall of rock hemmed the little party i.i. 
and even Scaforth wondered, while Okanagan growled 
half-aloud, when Alton, knee-deep in water, plodded steadilv 
on. Ihere was not more than anotlier hour's davlislit. 
and beaforth remembered that the gorge extended 'for a 
leagiie or so, while the flood had spread across it in front 
of thern. but he knew his comrade and said nothini;. 
l^resently he slipped from a boulder, and sank almost 
shoulder-deep in a whirling poo!, but somebodv grabbed 
his arm. and after a breathless flounder he felt the shinde 
under him and the froth lapped onlv to his knee Then 
they crawled amidst the driftwood which washed up and 
296 



THE PiilCE OF DELAY 

down be., X:., lh;m. tearing garments and lacerating limbs, 
until they stood once more panting on dry shingle, with 
a broad stretch of froth before them, and the light growing 

The river had spread from side to side of the constricted 
va ey, and the crash of the ice it brought down rang 
hollowly from rock to rock until it was lost high up amidst 
the chmbmg pmes. It seemed to Seaforth that to go on was 
impossible, and he glanced at his comrade anxiously Al- 
ton stood alone upon a driftwood trunk, his figure sil- 
houetted in rigid outline against the whiteness of the foam 
for his drenched garments clung in sodden folds to every 
curve of it. His face was as immobile in its wet grimness 
save for the smouldering glow in his eyes, and there was a 
ow growl of half-articulate expostulation from those about 
him as he turned and pointed to the river. 

" What are you stopping for ? The silver's yonder, and 
there s our road," he said. 

None of them protested. They knew no rancher or 
prospector in the province could traverse the road he pointed 
to but in their long grapple with the forest thev had not 
infrequently attempted things that appeared bevond the 
power of man, and speech seemed useless when the river 
would answer for them. Therefore, when Alton once more 
took to the water they followed him. bracing overtaxed 
muscle against the tireless stream until the man who pressed 
on a dozen yards in front went down. Then while Seaforth 
held his breath there was a cry from Okanagan, who 
clutched at an arm that rose from the flood. Seaforth had 
his hand next moment, somebody clung to him, and they 
went downstream together for a space, with the shingle slip- 
ping beneath them, and their burdens dragging them down, 
panting, floundering, choking, but still holding on, until they 
found a foothold in the slack of an eddy, and Seaforth saw 
that Alton was on his feet again. His hat had gone, and 
there was a red gash on his forehead from which the blood 
ran down. He said nothing until they stood less than knee- 
deep, when Seaforth glanced at him. 
" You will be contented now ? " he said. 
" Yes," said Alton, with hoarse breathlessness. " I'm 
297 



n 



ilh 



ll:l 



(i 1: 



m 




exactly thinking about 



:alton of, somasco 

t*?,''' "nge?- "' "^'" ^° "^'^ ^"<^ -"^e a traverse across 
Seaforth glanced for a moment at the slone of mrk th.f 
ran up mto the dimness above him Here and there 1 
alf InrUh '°°''°''' '°,^ J""'P- °^ stunted pTne, but thaTwa 

., ^ou,know what day it is ? " he said. ^' 

up ther^ irwili^hr.I'7.''"'l!'y- "" "^"^'"'^ ™«" a^e 
"H mere It will be too late when we set throiiirl, Thof 

means_ tolerably bad times for Somasco" ^ ^''^' 

Somasco'"" ^'''°'"*' "^^^"'' ^-^^" 

thJ^Wn"^""* ''^i^''' ^"'^ '' ^^^ dark when they camped in 

party who did notTeeS the'^J-lVy^ouldT u*s"e, e*!;'' 
but they wen on nevertheless, hewing a path throueh 

and when they were fortunate, two to the day, and "venTe 

ltot".'"^.t" "' ■'"^' '^'y "■"« scrambling Sown from 
tir to fir mto the rain-swept valley. There was nothW 
v.s,ble beneath them but a haze of fallinrwater and h? 
tops of dnppmg trees, but Alton stooped now and then as 

KJetfhTrslf-r ^°""^ "^-^ ^^^^ 

caj-Tethellve^Tow".^ ''" ""^ '"•""'^^■" ''^ ^'^- "' 
" Go on," said Alton hoarsely. " Oh, get on." 
298 



THE PRICE OF DELAY 

a Dine ,,nHI fh» ?^ ^"^^ ^^"' ^ '''Ae. 'ea"'ng against 

a voke *''' '"""'^ S-"^^ P'^'"«^ ^"d was followfd by 

^^.'^We're too late, but we'll go down and see it out," he 

,nJ!? """y*^' '^'^'' *^^y P'odded into the glare of a firP 
shelter°''^A 'fr""°"* ^"'^ ''"'^P'"^ '" f™nt^of a rude Wk 
evening nl,i T7 ""^'^ scattered about it eating their 
evening mea and for a moment or two thev stared at th^ 

Xe°Tn"ouM"s'^^'h"""V^;/°" '''^^'' forward'^nVstood 
What are you doing on my claim?" he said 

his ™lc P^f ^"^ ^" outbreak, and heard a growl from 

A-topytc^rr^^^^ ■•" "^^■•"^ •>'- •'- 

and there rf/"\""Pi'"'""'"^^''' ''"* "^e mine is ourZ 
ana there are enough of us to keep it, vou see Come in 

iltnnVT"/"^??^' ""d '^^^ 't reasonably " ^ ""' '" 

and the M°.°n ^' •"? ^°' ^ ^P^"^^ °"t °f half-closed eyes, 
and the man appeared to grow uneasy. ' ' 

s^l/ZuT'^T"!.'^ J""1P«''' These are honest men," he 
said, pomtmg to those who followed him. " We'll go back 
and camp up yonder, boys." ^ ^^^ 

It was close on midnight when Seaforth creot un tn 
the^fi^e"' Hiffl'"'".^'' ''fT ' "''" in*th7s'mok'e o? 
flickering light. " ^"'' P"<^'^^'-^d '" the 

299 



1! 



;* 










! tl 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



Don t take it too hard, Harry " he said 
Alton smothered a erokn '• T'm f r 
"■ght," he said. "Lor^l wh;.f J "'"l-"^ ^^'■>' "^^a" < 
thing. Every ranch in « ^ "'^'' ' '^'^ ^de of ever 

the ?ew Hn^'norfi ,ished r'^^n^lr'^^T'' '° ^''^ '-^' '° 
dollar to be had in hec tv ' An' "r^l^'.^d not anoth, 

I should Ta'v' t^lThere ^Tfat .'°"" '" ^?"-"-- ^^e 
out-hut what cou?d I do"^ " "'^^' ^' 'J""« ^'Pe- 

worryto'SL'uTwL?-"^""'^'^ ^"^""'d-- " Don' 

themXr^'^U'^h tt^^'P- ^'^^'«-''^' I've don< 
iJnished yS.'" ^''' ''"' ^^ ^--^ "ght. This thing i°n"( 

Ha^r^f '"o'ne wi^fauhe'r. /'^'^1 '^ ^ ^^^ deal better 
^ Alton looked at him sefdir"<'v" "."'•""'"■" 
All that was worth ZTnnf^hZ' ^°V '''''" ""derstand. 
must fight." ""'"^ •'^^ ^°"« alread)— but Hallam 

anf "h^fnsS: TsFn^K^l '" *f "^f -'°-'^ ^^"^ 
went back to his la^r in^h? ? ''■'',"' ^'^''^ ^"S^^^' an.l 
Hallam had won h? herto but^'h^ ""dergrowth contented, 
the struggle was no overset "'" '"' =°"""^d^' ^"-J 




300 



CHAPTER XXX 

SEAFORTH'S REINSTATEMENT 

Fraser meadows stretch, ope™tolin f'' , ^"^"""^ '' ""^ 
to the sea. but beneath he crelt hbi ^"'' '"•"' ^^^^'vvards 
shadowy, and Seaforth was flad of tht ^'T " '^ ''™ ^"d 
against a hemlock one sunfv ,ff ' ^^ ''^ ''°"d 'waning 
found the task he ha"l unSken'ar"; • ""= ^™"''' ^avf 
glare of the white road that r.n °'u '"'P^^^'^'e in the 
■*y. but the stillness of th^f '*'"^''^''' ""^er the open 

an things were sofcn^d llhTiZttTi ,°V'".''°- ^h^- 
a tnfle easier. Also, the es ence of i"*"-''^- " had made it 
come suddenly, was in the scent nf ' 'P","^' ^^ich had 
had g,ven him courage, and set hifP',"' ^"J'' ^.^d^--- and it 
It IS possible that the man H;!f 1 ^ l-^^ throbbing faster 
that upheld him then bms 'I'Jv '"'^u"" "" 'he influences 
steaming earth and the 1 fe that"^ *'' 'P''"^ f™"' *« 
towenng pine reacted upon him «?,%'*"■""? '" ^^«^y 
when he saw the reflex ofTinrVv.. ,^f .ff^'hered hope 

She sat a pace or two apart tll^T- °^ *"' companion 
and a dusty Vyder^^ted'^Tj^^h.^V""^^ cedar-trunk, 
fhe dust was also thick u^ht • ^f^^^'' «nd of it. 
cotton gloves that lay InTer h/nH^^^ ''"^^^ =»nd the 
■ftened upon them, and there 1? 'fl "u"- '^"^^" had 
when for a moment she glanced aT tL ''"* T.-*^^"- 'cheeks 
a trifle colourless, but the ^H .11 !. ™"; "'^ ^ace was 
saw the tense anxiety in his^eyes"' ^'"^^ "^"'" ^^ =he 
voice''"'?. 1^0^^ wilfth'ink^t'h ""'t ^ ""'^ '--We in his 
, Nellie Townrhead rianl^ ""'^^ '°° -""ch ? » 
b"sh, and th^re was niln '^ J"'^^ '"*° ^e shadows of the 
^-- '^"^ Ha^d va^nin:^ „^rt:°l,^hn•nki„g >•" her 
little imperious rteg. '""'''' ^8^='"' ^nd her 
301 



voice 1 



*: I 



m 



w 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

"And what made you tell me now' " 

vesture""''" f'.'"'' 'I'',^l"''' °4;^ ^'"^ * "«'« deprecatorj 
fhn!,M^ I expected this. The story I have told you 

Ihat leaves the question unanswered. I still want to 
know what gave you the courage now ? " 

Seaforth understood her, and knew her pride. " I think 
Harry gave me some of it. You see, I never had a great 

tJ-?*'"''^:! ^^'^ ^'"^ Townshead, with a trace of as- 
tonishment that was not quite free from disdain. 

Seaforth moved his head. " Yes," he said. "What I 
have told you I told him. and he seemed to think that one 
could live-even that kind of thing-down. He is, you 
see a somewhat exacting man, and that gave me the hone 
that you would be as merciful." ^ 

" Still, you have not answered me." 

beaforth flushed a little. " I know what you mean— h„t 
wou^d^even what I have told you warrant^o^SiiSg tSt 

" I must know," said the girl. 

-butltls^Tffirnf m'^^ """"l"*- "7^^'^ '' = distinction 
out it IS diHicuIt to draw, he sa d " Well T rni.M .,„t 

bear to think of you struggling on down here alone witl 

everything against you. there were times when it Ilmo 

aTfh^o%7oVl1ad\'o%*k'^.^^ ' '-- ' ""^^^ 

Yo^did^in/fS- r!u"'''-. "^"'^ "^^'•^ ^a« nothing else, 
lS>oened T in M ^^^^-^^^^'^- °f anything which had 
Happened— I should be more apt to listen ' " 

beaforth was usually undemonstrative in bearine and 

strained. That is what I have been trying to make clear 

•'"if IZT'. ^"' ^°" "^ ^"^'^ *^t I dfd not" he satd.' 

story long aga"""'' '°""^' ' "°"'^ ''^^^ '°''^ y°" t"^^' 

Nellie Townshead's eyes were very gentle now. " I felt 

302 



SEAFORTHS REINSTATEMENT 



it been otlierwise I 



IhTu "'^''\'l"''^ s'-'-e, because had 
Should never have forgiven you " 

prosperfty toofferTu" " "°*'"^' "°' ^^^" '"°d^-'<= 

thT.^^intL=:AfdrnetVor "^^ '° -^ - --^- ' ■' 

■■r^^°u^ stretched out his hands and drew her to him 
God bless you. my dear, but you are wrong," he sa™' 
All I had was yours two years ago." ^ 

303 



!l 



ir 



im 





^ 


■ ^m 





ALTON OF SOMASCO 

patched with hide, but it is possible there was room ,n the 
ife of s renu.nis toil the bushman lived for the romance 
that br.phtens everything, and he she .ed a mirthfuTereet- 

IoLh^""'"'/' ^f ^^'PP**^ ^'^ '''"^- Then as the 4gon 
jolted on out under the sombre archway into the brightness 

JstV^V^'"' '""'" ''•■"'j"^ ^'^ ''^ 'hem the refrain of 
atThl'tim """ ?"1 '""^ °"^" '" '•"= ^"^'^ °f 'hat country 
at the time, and the two who sat listening in the green 
stillness that sunny afternoon grasped the verity that im- 

bvthVHf»"'"'V'"''"'"'^'"y Shorn of its'harshnss 
by the distance the voice rang bravely through the thud 
of hoofs and rattle of wheels, and there was in the half- 
heard words and j.nghng rhythm what there was in the 
sunshine and scent of steaming earth, the life and hope of 
tne eternal spring. "^ 

the^lll? "h IT*'^^ u ""u^ f' he stretched his hand out to 
the girl, but the light which shone back at him from her 
eyes was softer than that of mirth. 
., " ^ 'hink that man knows what we know," he said 

wa?"„'hour aga"'' """^'' ^"^ "°"^ '= "°' -•'^' '' 
They were plodding down the dazzling road, one on 

^o^:^' ^-^^ ^'^^='« -'^- 'he%en sky ^h^n" 
" All this makes me sorry for Harry " 

more'^to'follow.*' ^"' '''''''''"''' '°' '''' ^^^ *ere was 
Seaforth bent his head. " He has so little now. Hallam 

has beaten us all round, and Harry's face takes my sleeo 

andL ^r''^'"S ^' ^P^"^ ^°' has been taken fr^m fi 
and he is lame, you see. 

sca^celv ^°^"*fd glanced at him swiftly. " One would 
C^arlev." ^^' something in your mind. 

r.!.?^"?^' ^^"^^ "^^^ troubled as he answered her. " It is 
a httle difficult to put into words, and if it was anvbody 
else than Harry I would not try. Still, Alice Deringhan, 

think she knows the truth, you see " 

Nellie Townshead flushed a little, and there was a trace 
304 



SEAFORTHS REIXSTATEMEXT 

a prcat tenderness in I'er e3es "^ "'^" ^'"^ 

bu;'7:mr;t L'i ■•"' ''''^"' '' -" "« -^^ .nfficuit, 

the'Scvcle A'veTemil' ''"Tf, !^^ l!"''^ T^'--' '-"^ on 
and knowing how much has ten "'" ''°^' / '''^''^ ■™'"- 
afraid." he said ''"" ^"''=" "^« I ^n, almost 

furS'.mT,TIhet,«rt:d'and S ';"',''"' ^'^<^ -'<' ""'hing 
Vancouver citj- He was brtw "' '"'"'^l ''"'^'^ '°^«^''s 
everybody when he reacL, r *^ °^' • V'^ ff""d-will to 
storekeeper Horton who r.l T' "' 'L ''^'P'"^^"^^ f°""d 

" Harrv'rn^ 7 , i, T" "^aS'sterial air. 
«id " N^ow r see° wher"' ^' '^"1' "^""^ everything." he 
" YeJ °J,;!i c ^^[^ -y°" ''"'' "i« can take a hand i ■ ■ 
vrl, ^^i'i Seaforth thoughtfully. 

cla"m"°" "°'^'^"^- "^' ^^^ Damer who recorded your 

pi^S;^^teS^^asc:^"^' -- ^-^^ -" H-^^ 

too htdy at"sl£n. foTk"'", "-"'''■ "^^^"^'^ i^* ^ trifle 
Well th7-f»iu ^ ^ ■ '"'" "^'^'■s and down stairways 

I kne\:'h^i^*;^ ::sn-trf Cw.heTl'-^V"'^ '^^' 

on the Crown ^ir^in^ Zl-r^lAlU2::'roZ^r: 

30s 



' f 


1 

1 

1 


r 


1 







fir 



ffif"r( :.1 




1^<j 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

quite ready, you and Tom. to swear to .c story you told 

"Of course, but still I don't scp " 

wherT^'" ^^" twinkled. ■• You will presently. That's 

would never convict 111 m." 

dnnl°ln " '^t'^.''?'' "'*= bushman's almost silent laugh. " I 

ll^U.^ 'u^- ,.^ «f"'"K '° K'V« us a pull on Mr 

S~.,TlulTfr "'-^-here behind the whole 
^5,f .u- r '' °^ ^^""^-^ "^^'•'^ ■" another man with him " 
likf Tt anri ^H '" ^''Ifi'^Y^- " Then, as Harry wouWn-t 
'^w of ronr';?' "°'t'"^ '" !'' '''^ ^^' "<» °' that fancv 
. av^ne a 1? ' ; ^'°" ""J"^ ''''^' >'°" ''" ''O' ^ut isn't it 
^T^f^, ■ [^ '°° "'"'^'' '"t° yur own hand? And voii 
see folks might get talking about the thing " ^ 

bv s?atut"e'''^nr.^' '^'''' impressive air. " There's justice 

nt:Sd a"t^u?''7aidr'*^' " "^■' ^^ ' '°* ^^ ^- 

thel^t;:Lt w^^re-gLtto'do'^^'^"^"^- " ^"'^ -•^'^•' "^ 

the s?ua;IfhW "?■■?.," '"'"""'y' "'^-^" "f them. Ifs 
tne square thing. Is there any reason why a man shouldn't 
do what IS right because it suits him? Anyway it nee n' 
w jry,you. because you can just sit up and S the cfrtis 

for lh!\TrZ^'^'°"- ^^' ?\'"^'' 'he man who rode out 
after Harry ?'• °"' '"""'^ "'^^*' '^""^^^ ^^^°'^ ^ '"'"ted 
Horton nodded, and wondered a little at the change in 
e'esTd'TiT; -"'^Y -^^ ^httle flash in Sea?orth's 
«T'^ 1- h'-'/^'ce had a ring. "Then," he said grimlv, 
I m going to take a hand in, but there are several good 
reasons why we should not tell Harry " ^ 

Innt.-nTc'' ^«^^'ater when Forel came home one night 
looking somewhat anxious and depressed. He said little 

306 



SEAFORTHS REIXSTATEMEXT 

alo,ie^a'„d%7r?'r'^ T"' ^"' ''^'" " 'P°^'= "> his wife 
af^er'shetft h,^'^°''*' ""^^ "P"" ^"" Dcringham soon 

••pj.^A^r^^^^.^'^S-^- a„,- .He sai.,. 

thecity'?"°"^'" '"'" ^"" Ucringhan,. "You ..can i„ 

d:^JL^![_Cne=rHte^an'^n;^.^^^^ ^^ ^""^ 
ha4''L^,t°Kry>'i-' "°' '""'^ ^' "- ■^P-''-- "They 

"Please tell me all you know." 

Mrs. Forel looked thoughtful. " It isn't a tne 1.,l 

iliipi 

Au i^j ^^"' "^''^ Deringham, "how was it that \tr 
Alton did not make sure of the mine'" ^'• 

too lonlr' 'L^h1"'''^!uP""''' '^°'"- He stayed down here 

dehvThim ^n^ -fl'' ;f=!f ^ """-l °' something "hit 

worharbeeniitfme'"'^' ^°"^ "''^" ''^ '"'-'«'' "e 

3t7 




t h 



if ' 



Mifl^M'«i 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 



a mmute before she spoke again ' ^' *'' *''"°' 

,. ^"'' ^l""- Alton takes it hardly ? " 

be blaTektrherold htTT^ ITn"*' """'''• -"' 
last dolla; had gone After all ?' ^°'^'',"S °" ""til th, 
for him. It muft be hard to ilv ^•^"' help feeling sorrj 
lose everything wI,Lt i*^ ■' ""^^"^^ "'fP'^d a"'" the 
that oth^rt^f; atm th"giH'"'='"^ ''''' "^ -'"ing ir 

bI.»!r:re°;",-,^o='rhe't',iT'''j'""'l''"' ^^"- ^-^1 saw the 
wished tha"? s e°wonlilKr,p"'''Tr"';. '"■r'^''' =""' 
was. she fancied, a tifle unnatural li^ ''"'' ' ^'K'^' ''"'"e^s 
was a good deal behind H""^'"'^'' ^"'' ""g^^ted that there 

thiSo;; ^';^!:!g^'^^; ""^^' '^ =«" I "^"ow. and I 

was not wholly tinlike hor"roMn heTe^s '""'"^'"^ "'^^ 
And." she said. " I kept him." ^ ' 

a.ain1[hTrl'aZr''a=;,Th';r?o"r'ofhert'f"°' T^^ A"^" 
as yet by a tense anxiety as to the '/ TIu ''"''' '" '^^^^ 
had plunged the man who tved her in %t "''IIF^-' '^' 

afterwards if Alton came ^,ttrhL^h"^T ^l^^PP'^'^ ^''f'' 

while she dare not thi^k of her er^'l^r'"'^^"' .^" ?^ '"^^"■ 

Presently there was a tapping at the":, ' '^^ ^/'^ ''°"^- 
came in. "PP'ng at the door, and a maid 

mi'sCsTe'said.^'-'-''''^ Townshead-waiting to see you, 

but^'r a'fe^mtr s^ M^ Averse of a timid woman. 

instinct in her =t^^^r!Z^'^,^^^,J^ 

308 






SEAFORTHS REIXSTATEMEXT 

\yas it very hard? ••"he said 

No. the fjirl said sl.nviv; •'not aft^r >!,»,•■ 

forh:r^L:^'-;-r.;::;r''^r"^-^^^ 

when here^s noS'e I'll^";'" T ""' "'^ '-"h >-"" 

handful of paper and he 1, J'T""^'- "^ "^""1 a 

"> and ha^s'a^d .hcre'w f i'e i n^,^ . "^'e " ' t" "^ "l"''"' 
ever, with a vacant ciiriositv .V l r ' '' "''''■ ''"»•- 

for she had risen hcav™i,,'"'r' '"' '"'" '" ''P'^ak, 

bepin Wearca to tind it somewhat difficult to 

toh^i::il do=" Se^li:;«'^"S!vto^r r^^^ 

bv right I do not iL? .,, /'""'"■ ''■''''' ^='' '"^ father^s 
warded ii in that I^ht ■' "^'^ '"'""^ "''" ^°"''' ^^^^ >■«- 

Pu'les^'S Mr^'Altnn'^l'' ■"'"' " ""'^ quickening of her 
" VV»n '• -J ^ .""!? ■' ^"^^^ was right ! " 

to indicaie thLt fcm'"' "'"^ ^"«'<' ^'""^ that seemed 

S- instan Alton, as you know, only relented upon 
309 



f I 




!'! '' '-\ 


m 



"h; 



m 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

his deathbed, when, as I pointed out to our kinsman, h" 
senses were, m the opinion even of those who signed hi 
^'u .? J*"',- ^ clouded, and Alton was reluctant to profit by 
a half-delinous fancy which deprived us, or to be more 
literal, you, of what was virtually your own. As I told 
hini no man in the possession of all his wits would have 
made such a will, and there was a probability that it could 
be successfully contested." 
"Then I think you blundered, father," said the girl. 
Deringham raised his hand as though to indicate that he 
did not purpose to discuss the question. " I have been 
trying to show you that Alton never regarded Camaby as 
his. You follow me ? " 

.< riJ^°i: ^ ^° f^''*er," said the girl with a curious smile. 
A 1 that you have told me was quite clear to me some 
while ago. 

" Now we come to the present. Alton has proved to 
myself and the lawyer that he is solvent. That is if he 
sold everything he could just pay his debts, but because he 
does not intend to sell, he stands figuratively speaking with 
his back to the wall, and appears to consider that financial 
rum may overtake him. That being so he has while he 
has the power made over all his rights in Carnaby to you." 
•< ^ u^ Deringham rose up with a little gasp, quivering. 
Father,' she said in a strained voice, "I don't think I 
can forgive you." 

Deringham smiled deprecatlngly. " I think that is be- 
side the point," he said. " It seems to me that Alton has 
acted most becomingly, and if he survives his difficulties 
we could, of course, come to some amicable understanding 
with him respecting the partition of the property." 

The girl's face grew a trifle plainer, for one word had an 
ominous ring. 

" There is more than you have told me," and once more 
It struck her that Deringham was curiously haggard. 

"Well," he said, "life is always a trifle uncertain, and 
Alton has twice met with disaster in the ranges." 

The girl stood still looking at him steadily with a vagiie 
terror in her eyes. Then she said slowly, " And I am the 
mistress of all the Carnaby property. It is mine to do 
310 



SEAFORTHS REINSTATEMENT 



I could borrow money upon it, or sell 



what I like with, 
it?" 

of"rdl'et'thoueh''r/'ff '^ Deringham with a little smile 
hasma^t^ufs^tofrt^oSufel?^'^ ^^^■"- "^"- 

b^t M™ I^ ' '^^' *?'^ " "'^^ ^he who had helped to 

Si Z f^\^tT ^T"^ ^'i ^""'"' ^"'^ ^he iSathed 
f-arniL y«t a /ay of hope shone through her fears 

to hdo^hJ^"' TW^ ^''\^"'^ ^'* ■' =he held the powe; 
!^ r^^?™- ^''** something which would test her eonr 

hfb from wT^'J!?"'' ^"""^ "^f-^ he'^Jot^fa cept" 
a cLe to h^r f '• '^<!'":, ''"* *" P"d« ^hich had been 
slow^v 2} ^^^ '" i''^ ^""*' ^"^ ^hen the vague project 
slowly grew into shape she rose and sought Forel 
She was very composed in speech and bearing but when 

" I want it done as soon as possible," she said. 



'I 



3" 



mmi 



Mh 




CHAPTER XXXr 

" THE THIRD TIME " 

some of then, hr^t " . appeared somewhat offended when 

"We havT" he J"h°. ''' ''"^hman's silent chuckle. 
rnosr^^r!:^syJltl UZ oft^-J?°""^- ™^ '^ '"^ 
Oh, yes, said one of the assembly. " That's just ^^U 
312 



•THE THIRD TIME 



done mU to b^Sou/of vile Tacti'H"''"'^M"^^^^^"'' 

produced a pape?. " This 'MnTEfH •- '"' ^^*" **'''='> ^e 
apprehension of one W D»m.l'/'\* *^"^"' '°"- "><= 
all you have to do if tf li^ ^J"" horse-stealing, and 

meet here It daylthtimlrro"^ '"'' ^'' ^™- Y°" *"' 
and provisions^ wh itT'S do t'he''^'^. T" ^^^ * ''°"« 
not quite sure the Got'rnnJe" t'^i^pay 1 them "^ ^°" ''"' 

src°r^dt:ri°/et„'^^^^^^^^^^^ 

laden horsTs by the bridL fc'' '''""■ '"^'^T^ ''^^^"y- 

PmV"th'a?'=^ht^ra"ft/;a'^^^^^^^^^^^ -'''it *'' 

«! saw a line of mounted men with rifles flit by and 
313 



i 



it 




ALTON OF SOMASCO 

vanish beyond a black hill shoulder. They rode in silence 
and save for the muffled ring of iron and faint jinele of 
steel he could have taken them for disembodied spirits 
m place of livmg men. 

Horton however, had in him a trace of the general, and 
did what his mrad could grasp with a grim thorou hness, 
while, as the result of it, there was blank astonishment one 
morning in a mining camp as he and the men who followed 
nim appeared as by magic from amidst the pines surround- 
ing It. Th.^ were also armed, and the miners, who rose 
from their breakfast, stared at them motionless in silence, 
that IS, all save one, who slipped into a tent and after- 
wards out through the back of it. Horton, however, saw 
hirn^ and his command was to the point—" Stop him " 

There was a rustle of branches, and Tom of Okanagan 
rose out of the thicket the fugitive had almost gained 
with a rifle in his hand. He laughed somewhat grimly as 
he said. Stop right where you are." 

Then there was for a space a somewhat impressive 
tat)leau, that had in it humorous as well as tragic possi- 
bilities Hallam's men had doubtless been chosen because 
of qualities which are more tolerated farther south than 
they are in that country, but they had nothing handy to 
enforce their protests with beyond their camp utensils, and 
It did not appear advisable to make a move in search of 
more effective weapons. Accordingly they stood silent 
with the smoke drifting about them, all save one of them, 
who, with impotent fury in his face, backed step by step 
into the opening before their shanty, as Tom of Okanagan 
beckoned him. Nobody else moved at all, for Horton's 
company were commandingly posted beneath the surround- 
ing pines, and there was a grim twinkle in the eves of 
one who carried a rifle, and had risen out of the under- 
growth between the shovels and axes and their legitimate 
owners. How long the spectacle would have lasted Sea- 
forth did not know, but at last the man, who had backed 
away before Okanagan, tripped on a tent line and went 
down headlong. That broke the silence, and the big man, 
who had on a previous occasion spoken with Alton, stepped 
forward. 



314 



"THE THIRD TIME" 

" ^77k V""" "TTt^ ^" '"^'^ ^l*^"*? " he said, 
oaoer " I f h; f"*^"?"?" f°'''""'y ^^ ^e drew out a 
RrfJ; n the hand of the law. Here's a warrant for 
Roger Damer, and .t's his body we've come for. You will 
put the handcuffs on him, Constable Andersen, and •« he 

ne's out of C.'-"™ '"^ '"" ='"*°"'^ *° P°«'"' '"^ '^ ■-^- 
" Hold on," said the big man. " That's your way of it 
Now has It struck you that there are things we might do? " 
"V„ •' ^ ■•' ^^"^ ^°'''°" «''* undiminished gravity 
JcZ?i^T.V° "°P T^"? y°" ^^^' ''"^^ '=^^f"' ^'ti^ens 
want to." '"°"^ ° "' *° "'^''^ y°" " y°" <l°"'i 

a ^nwfS""^"*' T^' incontrovertible, and there was only 
du% T^L^'^IT f *^ venerable Scandinavian did his 
duty, nien while two men stood on guard over their 
prisoner Horton turned for the last time to the miners 

t„ Jj^.u ^?"y ^ '^°"'' ''"°«' ^"'te enough about you 

to take the rest of you along," he said. " Still, if I can find 
out anything wej come back for you again. Well, boys, 
we 11 be going. H.tch that lariat on to the prisoner's wrists 
and keep a good hold on it. Constable Andersen." 

Nothing more was said, for Horton's men marched out 
^LT^ as silently as they had come, and it was only when 
the pines had closed about them that a hoarse laugh went 
oft.'"/!?""'!: u- *^ J°"'y^f vituperation that fose out 
man .11 th r^ behind them. Damer spoke no word to any 
man all that day or the next, but when they camped on the 
second night high up on the hillside he signed to Seaforth 
who passed the fire where he lay a little apart from the 

" Somebody is going to be sorry for this," he said. " Now 
a sensible man would wonder what you expect to make 

. "J°",ir^^" 'hat we can't connect vou with the horse- 
stealing r 

"Yes," said the man, "if there was any. Now there 
are men behind me who will make you and Hort'>n very 
sorry you ever fooled with me." 

Seaforth smiled outwardly and with his eyes, for he sur- 
315 



i !i3 







1 






ALTON OF SOMASCO 

rest.i„ He^-: t ^le^^lll^t":' it ciifficuU to 
importance w>i wet l'^ ''if ''-^^ ^"^ ^-='* 

had\tre„oS'''"Vthtnr '" ^^-.^hook him, for he 
he said. ^ ^ *'""'' >'°" ^'■e 'he man we want," 

he"afte?ltdi''re^etred'lr''";'^ '.r'^"'L^"'^ ^^^^ded. but 

mmmm? 

Horton who termmated the discussion. ^ 

m,„ '"'u"" "f^ ^"^ "'"'■e tall<ing. boys," he said " Th<- 

lor tne railroad, two of you. Another two will strike fo'r 

up hr/t^r°aS.^"' ''"' ''''' ^- -^ he.?fcn°S7to pT^k 
316 



"THE THIRD TIME" 

latten'" Yrcrien'H^r? 'T '''' "'''■ -^^■" -W the 
dersen acrosMo walch S:Zon'-'''"' ^''°'"^°" '""^ A"' 

rious?yTim°°'^-t''' l^' ''""'"'^"- ^"d his face was cu- 
have hiraT any ^°o;'a"„7lt/^ h^--. Tom? VeUs 
away." ^ '^°''' ^"'^ ^ 'hink it is my fault he got 

«Ki^^5-^^L"£stnn^"r^'^"^'' '-^^^ had 
railroad I'll fi„d him ure^he s^d '^O^h™ °^ .^'T *<= 
know him. When we ^et hf™ v\ ■• y^^' ^ "link I 
marks of Harry's knTfefn' hi™"' "" ""^""^ ^«'' ^<i the 

and°fcaif tii'e^es'st'a^a".'"^^ If'^" *« ^^'^y- 

S T'^u^° horsf co^d^^averst^ar'thatr^^'^™'^^^^ 
Seaforth behind them worn-oiTt TtL Tr ^^^^ '^3^'"& 
wait for Horton considerahlv V H" • "^ '^' 'J""'" ^ 
anxieties would norhave been h;"''^^ J". '"'"''' »"d his 
Alton was startW for So " ' T ^^ ''^ 
that afternoon ^ ^°"'*''° "^^ *''« Atlantic express 

found^'he"ew Sn^n 'tLfe'^S'/T^'^ /''^ ^^"'^'"«"t and 
when he had h^ard their storv L ^' °^ excitement, while 
he could find and rode out at^^.-^'"'"^'^ ?' *"'' ''°"'= 
He had also soent ^ev!r^?!i ^.8^="°P towards the ranges. 

any trace of thTpartv whin h^ '" '^^^"'^ ^■"^""t fi"^'"? 
minutes sufficed to mX 1?!= f- ^ ™ mornmg. Twenty 

317 




ALTON OF SOMASCO 

aughed a? thelllv'TT u^'^ def5ciencies-could Save 

Sleep came and brought him forsetfulnes^ TW fi 

the"U°es SX.> '^'^^'.^''"^^ theThtiSed'l^e'^ 
L"c pmes sang their mystic songs about him as a i;«-io 

Swfonh r"ett!7°^' ^4^ wafarereVby'Th': 

tll^e horse'trp;:i"V::tIetr;a'nV :;X, ^X^^ 

was pegged down within /each of S's arm, and* once 

318 



"THE THIRD TIME ' 

S"d ifght"? Khe & b"ut"r- •^"°" "'-"^ "- 

reassert themselves in thi' T. '"''" ' P'-'-^i'ive instincts 
possible tl™ senses were nof 'V' If' 1"'^ '''='^^"^<= '' » 
was some subtle symDathv b^» "'''°">;. dormant and there 

that served him' he d'id'n'ol'lir" "" =""' "'^ '^-'^ 
stin sTortinJ'^aTd&r'"' and pricked its ears, stood 
as a face leaked out fromT^ 'V^' '^"f"^ °^ "^ '«''«>• 

saddle, and guessed that tCre ere sever^'^davs'" nr' •°-*'"= 
inside t, while a wnrficK „i several days provisions 

S'."^' £™If »'^:"- -~" " 

319 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

had clawed his way up the ravine with closing on the knifr 
anvfh^' m'*''"' ''"°."^" P''"- "« had no^reat fear of 
h^r„ ?1"°'''°" "J"^ 'he ranchers could do withom the 
caSw i/feL' T *''° """d/ondemn him. and he knew his 
capabilities. Now one . vih thrust would silence him for- 

wh„'' Z^u""' •'" ""V'"^ "'"'^ the railroad there was™ man 
^oMn, 11°*" '""^^ *°"''' help him safely out of™" 
country with as many dollars as he might demand StHl 

sho^KtrLltn^'^'" "'^' ^•=^°"''- -^ '^« ^-""^ 

stanched ^W^'t'"^"'',"' •'" "?•'' ''™ ""''^ him, and the 
w^l. V ".u*= ^*'? "'°''" "'hen he left the city showing 
Tn^ fh^'""' ^^^ J«^'^<=t «"d blanket had fallen apart, bul 
now the arm was stretched across his body. Still his eves 
were closed, and the man who surmised that he must have 
sTiftlv Crouch- ^"15^' ^' '""l P^°^'^'°- closed wTh'hTm 
tTe arm ^nH W ^'i, !^' '^"^^'^ ^^^'"' *'°°P'"& ^"rther. for 
mthfT ^ "^"''^' "^"^ '" 'he way, and he knew he 
^ Fcf V^ "^^1 "°. °PP?rtunity for a second thrust. Something 

ren^J"'''^'"''i"°^'"» '"' «y" f™-" the sleeper's facf 
he endeavoured to draw the blanket gently aside 

That was a blunder, for the so" Gained finders had 

hislt *:nd':f t' t^''"^ "."^l" \ - was dasheTlulh' 
lil.if^!uf *^ ^* staggered bactnjrds something hove 
Itself partly upright and fell upon him. After that neither 
of them knew all that had happened, but the knife feUom 
a hand whose wrist yielded under a crushing grasp an^ 
was kicked away and trampled on. Then brlafhw'sS- 
Trle'^^J^^r'^f' '"'° " ^'' ='"'' 'he assailan 's h.n'^d was 
suffocffed' ^ n 'v °"7 '""'''' ''"""^'h 'hem as Alton, half- 
suffocated fl jng him almost at arm's length from him. Then 

t ^rmTjl'^v"^ i° '"P ^*^y beneath him, and he wounS 
an rm about his adversary as he smote again 

raint as he was with the blow, Alton did not however 
strive to shake him off now, but grappled with h°m the 
more closely, and next moment thfy had roHed cra^h ng 
«^rough a jumper. Then the other man came down under- 
most and struck a stone, there was a swift glissade over 

Altoliiv :??','"'' 'K^Y^ ^"^^^'"^ under^growTh and 
Alton lay still alone, while something rolled on dowii the 

320 



"THE THIRD TIME " 

wra'^rHfi'^h''™' """' ''?""« "^ 'P'^"''^ be'°* he rose 
which hin If ^\"^ ^";' '*""K '".nsolf off the ledfje 
which had arrested him. He rolled over several times, bTit 
^nX i°T' f he discovered later, whole in limb, for he 

the pools and boulders for his enemy. When he found him 
the man lay with his face apparently in the water and on Iv 
moaned a little when Alton shook him ^ 

o-Jh " *"!<'«"'>' his passion fell from him, an<l with a 

Hmn ^h'%'^^' Tu' '" "" ^"y =•'*'" '" P"y he dragged he 
limp body from the water, and sat down Vo wait for mornine 
with the wet head upon his knee. The moaning was ""o 
™H,7 '°"8i while cominp, but at last, when the stars we e 
IMling and the dark pines slowly grew into shape and form 
there was a sound of footsteps on the heights above and a 
voice he recognized came down : 

gone/-'"*' "^^^ ^'°"^- "^'''' ^''' ^"'' h"t the man has 

of 'a^onu'h^ml'nri'ii A't°": «"d there was an exclamation 
ot astonishment followed by a scrambling, and presentlv 
f,?/T^ ''aT^ ™'"^ " ""'^ ^'P hy his comrade. Ahoi^ 

was'anXr morrh?"^^^ '" *^^ i^"P''"^ '"^ht. and ^re 
was another more blanched one m the wet fern beside him 

thiSryV.^'''" ""^ ^^^^°^''- "^'^^^'^ 'he meltj'^f 
hi;^^,:'lS>i^e^i!°:JS^- "Vou should know 
Damer!" said Seaforth hoarsely. " We were trailintr 
him, and knew he couldn't be far off when we «w you? fire^ 
We took It for his. Is he dead? " 

use' W him'' r'ZT^'^I- " ^ t°P* "°*- We have some 



321 



wlR! 




CHAPTER XXXII 

AI.rON HOLDS HIS HAND 

cot. moved his head a trifle and m/n / 'l^ °" = "■""«- 

fire had sunk in the stove and T" " ^'^'^ ''S^- The 

o'clock in the morning wh'ml'l ""f 1""^^ '°*^^'1» t'^" 

The young doctor Hortonh.HK ^'u^'^y " *' "* '°west. 

settlement shivered a Httle as h.'';°"^'^','" ^^""^ » distant 
bed. '"" "* "e rose and stooped over the 

faintTestfre.""' I^'ha^vr^o"' °' f''""^ 7«. -^ made a 
Alton I want " "° ""= ^°' y°"' he «id. " It's 

" ^th^-^innXg^rrnt^Kk-'hl^ -' ■•" ^ — 

you went down for° Neilsfn't^' " '* "°"'^ ^ ^ ^^-ur if 
waiting. YoTsee we wZ' ^"^X^yo^- He's sitting up 
with the thing in^aseheWoinrtot^n"'''" "."?* '°""«'ed 
you'd better talk to him " ^ ^ """ "" ^"ythmg. Harry, 

haJ'aTit^Cene'; [Zl ='"f T '°"" "^ ^"-^ '-''• He 
fall into theSe^wHch^wa" n'otTh' scatheless from the 
ant, who had been carried Hn!,n / *if "^^^^ with his assail- 
h-fe justclingingto hlfcr^sh^^L.? the settlement with the 
had been done for hi^ a™d now f f/ ^" ?''"! ^^' I^^'We 
suspense, with something ak^X^i'"" ^^'?"'' ^"^ intense 

333 



ALTON HOLDS HIS HAND 

We want to know who he is," he said, 
^"."c was a glimmer of malice in Darner's face " UV!" •' 
of the'Trr'^Th'cT^ttme^r^^ clear:^;;.'^^:,^ I^.!a. 

U^^to^t^S^Z^^ "--'^'S^- "And 

smart man, Harry Alton huMfll^-^^r ^°V ■•<> » tolerably 
know me " ^ ' ' '* ' ^'"^ °^ '^""°"s you didn't 

lie sam. Black Nailers partner' Well T rt;Ar,^ ^"'u- 
that often-and it was dark when!--" ' "*" ' '" y°" 

compXnir "'"' '"'' "'"^ P^'"- ""' his gesture implied 

and the boys chased me right out of that part of Washing 
brandy "" '"" "^ ^°* "^^ ^«'""-g- Give'^e a IMe mofe 

cra^ked''Hn?^,,""'fv!°:;'^f '^ =°^"y ^"<^ held a glass to the 

cracked hps then lifted the dying man a little After that 

there was silence for at least five minutes! and Alton sat 

323 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 






his breath ^ith aTufveS sS, asThe Sh? '"'=•''''* ' 
menced again. * * "^ '^^'''^ voice con 

"Get it down. You haven't much time " 
at last t was finished anH Jj»J!!,u •*' ^^ . "^^'"^f whei 

light. ^ ■ "^ "^^^ '"™«'l his head from the 

th:w%"'L';ri;Lfe";i^ht'''^ '^•^•^ *^ ™- -"^ "^'^ 

in^it. but whethe^here t/Crelt^Thrcot/d^ 

whisler t" fctm'oviS' ^'^'^ '" = ''°^"^' "^-^^ 
nearer <!ti!l mI^ .^ """■ C°™« nearer— a httle 

H?nam." "" *"' ^"^ ^"°th*^ "^^ ^'^ well L 

and 'l°oo?ed"tiiflrf T *''"' '"T °«'^" ^ad not heard, 

324 



ALTON HOLDS HIS HAND 

spea^S-'t L" d °" °^ '"°' ""* '' ^-'^ 'hink he will 

thJsh^dowsTnhe'sifcr ''^^^^^^ f f"''^ ^'-^hed into 
by vague suspicions and hfH H ' ''^''u""^ ''^^" '^°"bled 
could ^t douCt'X; Datr'had dd" W„^"l n7'^' ""!, '^ 
he stood face to face with the ver tv He h.f 'S"""^ ^' 
proud to stoop at anv time tn 7,il ^' r ? *'^'' ^een too 

would cost him for Hallam h.7! fierce anger what this 
self effectivelT' If he rfr^^i^'f A' T'"^'^- P^t^cted him- 
must fall ;th hL^Jd^S,Xrcot7 ?""^^'" 
would not have stayed him 7n snite nf ,^°"''^<:^="0" .^'one 

would cost her contemplate all that the revelation 

his hand aiTd H^^ ^ T. '"^P'^- "^ ^ad but to hold 
needfu" ■ "°''°" *°"''* '^"^^ =" ^^e action that was 

of hfsTovLl^'toT """'' Pl''"u'° •"■"' "^^' '^^^'^ =t the cost 

gg^^sv^^^^^^-tdri^^iif 

<-= me tnought of the woman's humiliation. Evervthing 
325 



ALTON OE SOMASCQ 




tlf 



leaned against a oinL,th» «■ ^'^ """^'^^^ Pacing ai 
to a quietresolutfon Attst hf.'^ ."/ ^'"°''°"^Vve pla 
the great branches high atove hi^ f ^"'^''"" ^'^'' 
as a chilly breej'P si JhS , '"'■ ^""^ shivered a Htt 

in its stilVefLcfd „r°hfm r^'T^'^r^'- ^o-ethir 
passion melted away TbeZ' "^ ^^t '^'' *'"^'=« °f h 
responsible, and at ^east his entm'""? ''\"°"^ ^°"'d I 
suffer. " "■' enemy s daughter should nc 

f ou^firjriS''H\%7re.''^^f° ^he hotel, an 
then answered th ' uts£ ^estioV' ^'*°" ^""°"^'^ ^"' 

would'kind o/ woi,d'e? wheT T """ *r?" "°^' ^"^ on, 
have you been arthl^time^Harr;" '^''"^ '^''"- ^her. 
"TZh™^''^^'^*^^"-"«^id Alton. 

don'^rantTC^rquiKsvTo"^^^.'* '^" ^ " >">" 
worrying you" ^ "'^ '° ^^^ 'hat something is 

thit^a"C?'^tfd t '^t^TL7'' ''' '^''"^^ '° 

from Damer?" ' '"^"^^ » Paper you took 

acro?s'' ^' £wng"much to bl mT.'Tl ""'"P'^d ''^eets 
given him to sen! cS lele'^amf wFth '• ^^^ '' "^^ «-- 

os&tsrain\tbry\Cre hX-'-^H ^^^ -^'- 
wUhVy?w^n.^'1.K!SS^^^^^^ 

"tfrt^ ^l^^"? toTerke^^cIaim •' ^'- "^^^"^^ ^'^^ 
Horton looked thoughtful " T'.r, ., . -. 

'"a,;" ?' ''I'"'* beel^declared op'en °' ''"'*' ^"'^ '°'' <=°"''' 

'•AtVS'^t'g^t"h1rnZ/"^ '^'"-^ ^ «"•" he said 
Iikelythatthernanwho,.nfV • ^".r^y- "•"'^ >''' s<^ar«'v 
Then he sfowly sTro°Ied iw!!^T'lP^°*^'t^g^'""^ ' 

behind him moved wTthnuldc';.,/*™'" *" ''""^ <^'°'^'' 
There he sat bu.sv wl^h nen anrf no "^'''P' '° ^is room. 
and then descendarCVKglnTS'e iT 
326 



ALTON HOLDS HIS HAND 

. °,''^"agan stretched himself sleeoilv " H^.f ■ 

m at sun up." ^'cepuy. Horton s sending 

." Yes," said Alton dryly '< T want m„ ^ 
wires some hours before his but nnfl^^ ^""j'?^^ °" *^^ 
beyond you and me " ^"^^ "^^'^ ''"°w "* 't 

thing fixed, and if the fo kl hA ■ kr ^ "^ "^^'''^ 8^°* ^is 
over it, when Halam hear, r." l" Vancouver don't fool 
he'll be' under lock and k^y"''^'' ' ^^"^""^ '° his partner 

th^t m'anrk>;L'f ^!?pV"'^^'" ''""^ '"' *'^«= ^^'- '^-^h 

Horton's dispatches to the r^lfZ' J^f happened that 
the first that left the station '^nSth,f^^"'?"^'A '^^'^ "°t 
who was sittine w?th h r)! u! ^* ^"^"'"^ Deringham, 
Forel'I house ^^rn^Hf daughter on the verandah of 

his li,s as he saw Hallam 'r' ?''"' ^'■'^^ ''"'^ "^'"^i"? ° 
Mr. Hallam seems to be in a hurry " she «.M " t • u 

327 




ALTON OF, SOMASCO 

am no more pleased to see Mr. Hallam than you seem to 
be, he said. 

For a moment, and though the breach between them had 
not been healed, the girl's heart smote her. Deringham 
had beguiled her into an action whose memory would she 
fancied, always retain its sting, but he was her father, 
and seemed very worn and ill. Also some instinctive im- 
pulse prompted her to detain him. 

"Father," she said pleadingly, "don't see him. Go 
m at once, and 1 will tell him that quietness is necessary 
to yon. ■' 

Dermgham had almost yielded to the hand upon his arm 
when Hallam glanced in their direction and signed to him 
Ihen he shook off the girl's grasp and she shivered a little 
for no apparent reason as they went in together There 
was nobody else about, for Mrs. Forel and her husband had 
gone down to the city, and she sat alone on the verandah 
while a murmur of voices reached her through an open 
window. Though his words were inaudible her father ap- 
peared to be expostulating. Then he came out, and as 
she noticed there was an unusual pallor in his face and that 
his hands were trembling, she remembered he had looked 
as he did then once before when a partial failure of the 
heart s action had almost cost him his life. 

"You must send Mr. Hallam away at once," she said. 
. P^ringham made a gesture of impatience. " I shall be 
rid of him altogether in a few more minutes. You have 
some money by you ? " 

"Yes," said the girl. " I am not fond of going to the 
bank, and got Mr. Forel to change mv English cheque into 
currency, but why do you want it ? " 

" Hallam^ has to catch the steamer, and the banks are 
shut. Dont ask questions now, but get me the monev 
quick." 

Alice Deringham went in. and returned with a little 
satchel. " This is all T have, and I don't feel very willinf 
to lend it Mr. Hallam," she said. 

Deringham took the satchel from her and moved awav: 
then, as though acting under impulse, he stopped and looked 
back at her. 



ALTON HOLDS HIS HAND 

nel.^-th^'"' r 'if^'"'" 'J^ '=''^' ^"h a <=""°"s gentle- 
ness. It has relieved me of a good deal of anxiety ^ 

He went away, and Alice Deringham, hearing the door 

close behmd him, wondered a little When she next looked 

road and : I^tleM ^T^'"^ "'J'' "^^^^^ stHdes'dow^ tl e 
n?n;= f a !>ttle later the roar of a whistle rang about the 

E f ^ 1,'^ """"^^ '*^™'='' "'"^^d °"' into the inlet A 
cloud of yellow vapour rolled from her funnel there was 

Lh"!]"? ^^^^ ^''^^^ ^^' t°^^""g sides, and the gM 
watched her languidly until the pines which shroud f he 
Narrows shut the great white fabric from her sight and left 
only a moving trail of smoke. 

Then she felt happier. The steamer had at least taken 
Ha lam away, and her father was not now the courtly 
though somewha reserved gentleman who had treated her 
with indulgent kindness until Hallam crossed his path It 
was a fine evening and she sat still on the verandVh won- 
AeTuntiT."''- "!u 'l',^ rP«^«P«Wy widened between 
rern,wi^^T'."v*^^ blood crept to her forehead as she 
remembered that it was at his instigation she had detained 
Alton. Still, though she realized that this could not be 

st^Crf "• '^% '°°^ ^'J P^rt °f the blame, and feU 
soriy for the harassed man whose anxieties were in asified 

hfsh«Ith''"'"''/-.^°'' her welfare. He was in dit. uWes 
his health was failing, and she decided upon an attemr.t at 
reconciliation. The respect she had cherished for him couM 
never be quite restored, but she could be a more svmraAetic 
daughter and help him to bear his troub™. T^s she 
glanced down across the inlet with eyes that grew softer 
^°rt?"^'"^ wife came up through the garden ' 

" I .u- ^^°^^: . ^^ '^"^- " Where is your father? " 

came in tn ^L'V" ^" """ '°°"''" '^''' "'^ ^irl. " Mr. Hallam 
came in to see him. 

but' A iff n' -^T ^ rr'^*'' " ^^'^ F"°'-el. and stopped, 

tc^kli f- °f.""B'^a'".had seen his face, and being a woman 
took instinctive warning. """loii 

wn7Ji°"'* "''"'? ""^ "^^"^^^ anything of importance, and he 
was only in a minute or two," she said 

They went in together, but Forel was behind the «rl 
when she pushed open a door and then stopped just insTde 
329 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

it. Deringham was sitting before a table, and there was 
something that perplexed her in his attitude. He seemed 
curiously still, and his head had fallen forward. 

" Father," she said, and her heart beat a trifle faster, for 
Deringham did not move. 

His face was not visible, and moving forward she grew 
suddenly faint and cold as she touched his shoulder. There 
was no response from the man, and she now noticed that he 
seemed huddled together; but she saw nothing more, for 
just then a hand was laid upon her arm. Shaking off the 
grasp, she turned and saw her growing horror reflected in 
Forels face. 
"You must come away, my dear," he said hoarsely. 
Ahce Deringham shivered, but she stood very straight 
a moment, staring down with dilated eyes at the grim figure 
m the chair. 

" Touch him. Speak to him," she said in a voice that set 

Forel s nerves on edge, and then as the last faint hope died 

away, stretched out her hands with a little half-choked cry. 

Come away," said Forel very huskily. 

He was sensible that the girl's hand was very cold as he 

drew her from the room, but he left her with his wife on 

the verandah and then went back hastily. Forel was a 

kindly man but he knew that speculation in Western mines 

hM Its under-side, and it was for the girl's sake he stripped 

off the top sheet of the blotting-pad, which had a recent 

impression on it, and afterwards poured the remaining 

contents of a wineglass out into the stove. Then he glanced 

all round the room before he went out to send for a doctor. 

It was an hour later when he found his wife alone. 

' How is she ? " he said. 

Mrs. Forel's eyes were hazy. " I think she has given way 
at last— it viras awful at first when she would only sit and 
look at me," she said; and then her voice sank a little, 
" How did it happen, Tom ? " 

" Heart disease," said Forel. " The doctor is quite sure 
of that." 
"But." said Mrs. Forel, "what brought it on?" 
"Well," said Forel slowly, "anything that upsets one 
is apt to prove perilous in cases like' his, and I rather fancy 

330 



ALTON HOLDS HIS HAND 

that Deringham had a quarrel with Hallam. Thev had 
f'^^^H^T'^^' """^ ^J*""'' Deringham must hate lost 
Jmb^" "'°"'^" '^"' "°*' '«'*^^"' mention it 

Mrs. Forel looked at her husband curiously. " No of 
course." she said. "I wish I knew what to do for the 



331 





CHAPTER XXXIII 

MISS DERINCHAM'S CONFESSION 

^ictoria, and there s a good deal I want to know," he 

"Y^u''hJT'f^.u°" ^"^ ^°'^^ •'^""•e suddenly grave. 
You heard what happened to your kinsman ? " ^ 

Wf J*% '*'^.^"°"- "J' was some time before I got your 

Sen/wrn-tTt?-'"'' '''''' ="' ^'^ ™°^- ^^ ''"- Ve^ry^ 

Tt,»°j;^'."°^u^^- " ^""' '* ^^* "°t altogether astonishine 
tW ^.n'"' ''^'' *?'■""'' ^'"^ = f«^ 'l^y^ before it hTpS 
SlousJ' """'"" ''''"'°" °'' ^^'=''^"'^"' mightTrove 

kin'dt"^' '° **"' ^' ^^ ' ''"°"'' "^^^ "'^'■* anything of that 

"I^hJvlrM"'"!,!!'" f^P^nio" closely - he answered: 
I have told nobody else, but Hallam ca.^ here and saw 
him shortly before it happened." 

nMi)!'*^!!'* face remained impassive, but his voice was not 
rwordoThim?"" ""' " ^^ •'^ ^^'''' "The police have 
Forel smiled. "As there cannot well be a prosecution 
without a prisoner they are somewhat reticent. Still Hal- 
iV".!,*^*"!?* '""^ ^"""'^ steamer, and late that night one 
of the officers came round here, while I was eventually 
able to glean a few details. The steamer had called at one 

332 



MISS DERINGHAM'S CONFESSION 

rl^'ZF°'^^ ^l°'t ""^y 8^°' *''e wi"-". and while the Ameri- 
can pohce might have shadowed him, you cannot arrest a 

f^rnf.^'r u'°u *■•"= *^°""" ""«" y°" get your "^r? 
nLla^- St^„"'?.'™'= t""} ^^' done there^asCtr^n 
have diared it n"? ,* '""' PV"'^d' because he seems to 

'eTwho'couVhavl rnTdtm."°""' ='"" '''^ ''"^-" '° 
Forel fancied that Alton seemed relieved. " He has P'ono 

Forel looked Alton steadily in the turr •' T i„„„- » 

^vtilaW^""*"'' "'"" "''"^ *^* ^^>'' ='"d his chequiuik'ot 

.ijJt'p" '^^^" "i"^^*? ^ *"''«• and though he made no other 
sign Forel saw that the shot had reached its mark ''Then " 

an indignation meeting of the Tyee shareholders and ^k 
about prosecuting the accountant." ^renoiaers and talk 

as h^?aid''"%'n!^l'" '^"??> f?,".. which softened suddenly 
as ne said, And how is Miss Deringham' " 

Forel smiled. " I fancied you were about to a.V fi,,* 
Sarf °and';f -i' '.%"'''• " "^^ '^'^' '""'d to 4°ket ve? 
hotel'in th.Vfl- ''"i^"^ ^"" """^ her away up to th^ 
here Ind T%v^ r.l "u""" ■'^^ P^^uaded her to stay on 
nere, and I expect them home very shortly." 

" Wen'" ^Tl"" ^, '^^"*^'' ^' Carnaby ? " said Alton, 
well, said Forel, once more watching him, " I believe 

Se pS"anTHettie h"' '"' '''^'^'"^ '° ''^^^^ ^orror'^l 
ten vnn wv ^ ^"% ^'^*'"<=«'y "^ntion it to her. I'll 

tell you nothing more until vou've had dinner " 
Forel adhered to his resolution, and it was more than an 
333 




ALTON OF SOMASCO 

^nZn^" *!!.'" ^' '■'liT*'^ *° "'^ »»Wect as they sat, cigar 
in hand, on the verandah, watching the lights of the vessds 

mgham as long as we can," he said. " She has no kinsfolk 

her DM iTmi^ °^ "iu^"^^t"'^' ""'' "«"*« " ^ery fond of 
"-XT .. Mi'".,y°" *•'*' Thome called upon her?" 

"Well '^^in p°"'. *'? " *^""°"' ^"'^''"°" i" hi, voice, 
dutv h« ' H^tr '' "i^ ""f^"' *°- No doubt he felt it his 

Stm ' Jfh^tt '"'"*'' ° '?"=y *•'"'= *»» something else, 
bti I think she was mistaken, because he said go^-bve 
to us when he went away, and we heard since that he had 
sailed for another station.' 
"He was a good man," said Alton gravely 
i;orel g anced at him curiously. " Women are subject to 
fa.'. iT"^' I"'' «««i^had another once," he s^d "In 
to nothing "^^^ ''"'"' '"""'y ^'^*" " apparently came 

of M^rs" For! p'' M-'*''fc'-y- ''Wasn't it a trifle foolish 
th.VjHo ? • ^'t' ^""gham is a lady of position in 

o'yu^n,'a„Ta'cripJ.e.^ '"' ""'=''"■ ^^"'''"« ^ ^'^ »'""'' 
"Of course," said Forel, "you know best. Still I can't 
help fancying you are unduly proud of your affliction, be- 
cause It IS scarcely perceptible to other pe, pie, while Mi^ 
Denngham has not a great deal to mafntain hrp^sUion 

W V/°",^'V''" '^'"^^ "^""^ ^'^ ^^^ in the old c'^untry" 
and from the letters she has shown me Deringham appirs 
to^haye involved the estate considerably durin|his steward- 

Alton laid down his cigar. " It seems to me that we are 
he safd dryl^ '' '" '"''"'"'"« ^"' ^eringham's affairs^'' 

deal tolell S"''""'' "'*' ' ""''= '™'^' "^""^ ''-« '^ ^'^ 

de^h ""h?^f^''' ."r T''"u ^'"'^ *° **'* "'"= *ft" Darner's 
death, he said "Got there ust before sun up, and we 

we wTe'afte'/ 'nY'"'' "'I.'^"''^ ™" ""'^^ realized what 
we were after. Of course there was a circus, but we had 

wTt outld"1 ''"'' f"^' accordingly. Hallam" men 
went out and I came down to see the Crown people in 

334 



MISS DERINGHAMS CONFESSION 

down in the LmrcLr's.'U see^' """ " ™- ^' "-^ 

with enough of the bovs to hnM?^''"1^?" ""'' Seaforth 
he said. "Talked to the chi.fcv-'''''^ "'"'"» "sh'." 
them Darner's testimony Thev tnM^'"°:,^"' ""t ^"^"^'^ 
? patent, and that eventhin^ thJti^'Vt^' """^^ '''''' 
informal, and because they Z-ld^rn^'w ^'^ ''""'^ *" 
the case to Ottawa it womiT f=L PTobaWy have to submit 
to a decision. And nZ for ^ '""'= ^"'J'^^'" '« ^^e 
finished, but it has trot I W fu'°; V"" "=« ™"'» 
just no^ there isn't anv W °" ^''fr''^''' ^«™"d. and 
desiccatory, bu^ a i seems Zr ^"' "''°"»'' ^'"^ the 
us roads, the Cajffornln?!" ' , ^P^^i-nnient will not make 
will beat u ea-^ly Tve ■SThL"'"'' '^f '^■'"'P t^="'P°rt 
trail one could haul Ii^aIaZ^ '"^" '''°PP'"f? °"t a "ew 
know how to pay them We've r?°"/"' ^"'^ ^°"'' I"'** 
nery, but for want orHnllTr a ^u^^ ^ P"" °^ 'he can- 

-in fact half a, mif.lf ^- ""^'P y°" considerably 

lately " """'' ^^*'" =' y°" were asking for 

There it is, anyway," said Forel, smiling. " There are, 
335 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

It seems, still people who believe in Somasco and vou but 
we II see what we can fix up to-morrow." 

Alton stood up and straightened himseli to his full 
height, while his voice trembled a little as he said. " Then 
1 think whoever it is is going to save us yet." 

Forel made no answer, but he fancied that his client 
would have been contented had she seen how Alton seemed 
to shake off the grim hopelessness that had been too apoa- 
rent through all his resolution. 

It was with a lighter heart that Alton went awav, and 
having little leisure or inclination for company, he did not 
go tack to his friend's house until the evening of Mrs 
Forel s return. The sun had dipped behind the pines when 
he reached it, and Forel and his wife sat with Alice Der- 
ingham upon the verandah, for which the girl was grate- 
ful, because the presence of others rendered their con- 
ventional greetings easier, and she at once shrank from 
and desired an interview with Alton alone. By and by it 
however, happened that Forel, who may have received a 
warning from his wife, remembered that he had some 
business to attend to, while Mrs. Forel went away as 
she explained, to instruct the Chinese cook, and Alice 
Deringham was left face to face with a task that now 
appeared almost impossible. She could not commence it 
directly. 

"And now I want you to tell me all about Somasco" 
she said. 

Alton leaned with his back against a pillar looking down 
on her and the girl, who lay in a long chair, wished that 
she had chosen a position where the light did not fall so 
directly upon her. That was in one respect curious, because 
she had taken considerable pains with her toilet, and knew 
that the sweeping lines of the long black dress became her. 
Its sombreness also emphasized the ivory whiteness of her 
neck and hands, while the pallor and weariness of her face 
awoke a tenderness that was far more than pity in the man. 
He caught the glint of the lustrous red-gold hair as she 
moved her head a trifle, and then turned his eyes awav 
with a little restless movement that did not escape his 
companion. 

336 



MISS DERINGHAMS CONFESSION 

!! iy* "J^y ''"''' ""^ '"'"*^' a-'t' r all," he said, 
n. ^' 1! '*"' i^!'?'; '^•^'■inKham, with an evident eager- 
ness which puzzled him. " That is very K<x>d news. An<l 
ymir other difficult!,. s? You see, I mkde Mr. Forel Va"k 
about them occasiLiMllv." 

The interest that liiis implied was not lost upon the man. 
But he glanced awa; again. 

"They are !.■. th;.n they were," he said gravely. " Still, 

thi'n s" '" ■'"" ^*'°"''^ "''^ '" ^^^^ ^'^"' "'^'*= 



" That is not very fi-i-r'II 
a little smile. 

Alton glanced iluvvn 
his face became a tn.i 
"when I think wc 



f-aid Alice Deringham, with 



h. 



in swilt surprise, and then 
•< :iK-'i:i " Well." he said slowly, 

,,„„ . ,- ;■■ '"'1 I'^'ve Inen beaten without it, 

somebody lent us enough rlollars 'o carry us through J. 
sounds very simple, but it has mad,, a new man of me. T, 
have dragged down all the , ,en who trusted me wcMd h'.y 
nurt me horribly. 

"And this loan or whatever it is will prever. ih.,, ; „,. 
pening? It was opportune?" ' 

" Yes," and a little glow came into Alton's eve , ■ t, - 

very opportune." ' ■ > 

"You were not so laconic st the ranch," said l'-' - ti 

who smiled at him. " Once uix>i a lime you would teii ;r,.^ 

aJI about your plans. 

The man seemed to quiver as he met her gaze, and then 
slowly straightened himself. " I have been taught a ZS 
deal ?'nce then and know wh.-.t an egotistical fool I was " 
ne said. btill, this loan makes too great a difference to 
me to be expressed in words. You can scarcely understand 
beaten "" "° *'°'"^" «^°"'d— what it is to feel utterly 

"Still," said Alice Deringham. with a little flash in her 
eyes I don t thmk you ever quite felt that, and now you 
will have everything you hoped for again ? " 

Alton's fingers closed suddenly as he looked down on the 
gleaming hair and whiteness of the neck beneath it, for 
the girl s face had been turned from him. " No." he said 
slowly. " I wanted so much, you see." 

337 




w^ 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

" And yet you once seemed to think there was nothing 
impossible to the man who was resolute enough— and I 
fancied you were right," said the girl. "Still, the things 
one used to admire occasionally lose their value." 

She glanced at him a moment, and was afraid to look 
again. The man's face was very grim, but she had seen 
what was in his eyes, and waited almost breathless, until he 
stooped and laid his hand upon her shoulder. 
" Will you look up and tell me that again? " he said. 
Alice Deringham was never quite sure whether she 
looked up or not, but she felt her cheeks glowing and the 
mans hand tighten on her shoulder. " I— I can't" she 
said. ' 

Perhaps her voice betrayed her, for Alton had evidently 
flung restraint to the winds. " Then," he said, with the 
quietness which she knew was most often a mask for his 
vehemence, " I have something to tell you." 

It cost Alice Deringham an effort she remembered all 
her life, but she shook ^<^ his grasp, and stopped him with 
a httle imperious ges ;.. "No," she said, "you must 
listen. Go back to the rail." 

Alton stood a moment irresolute, the veins on his fore- 
head swollen and passion in his eyes. Then he stretched 
out his hand with a little laugh, and Miss Deringham knew 
that unless she used all her strength that tale would never 
be told. She rose up, and stood looking at him, very statu- 
esque and cold now in the long trailing dress. Alton let his 
hand drop and bent his head. 

" I am only a bushman, and I am sorry," he said. " Now 
you will sit down again." 

It was evident that he had put a stern restraint upon him- 
self, but the girl knew that he would listen. 

" I have a confession to make," she said quietly. " You 
will remember the sale of Townshead's ranch, but you dci 
not know I kept back the message Miss Townshead sent 
you. 

Alton laughed a little. " Nothing would convince mc ni 
It. The man who should have brought it was not sober. 
He told me himself." 

Alice Deringham had not anticipated this, and the man's 

338 



, 



MISS DERIXGHAM'S CONFESSION 

unwavering faith in her was worse to bear than his aneer 

have had a reason that would have made it right" 

The girl sat silent a few moments, her thoughts in con- 
fusion, almost angry with the man for his loyalty. "But 
there is more. Vou were going back into the ranges to re- 
J^ate the mme-^nd I knew that it would cost you a g^St 
•leal when I sent the note that stopped you " ^ 

The bronze faded suddenly in the man's face, and there 
Th Itr T" •"= forehead, while the girl felt very faint 
^he r^^/^ '^ realized how he would feel the blow. Ye 
she could not spare either herself or him, and she struck 
while she had the courage left. strucK 

JaIi!'^^'" ^°u T"'"* ",^^ everything if I asked you to 

Ir^n' T ""^yJ f"' *.^<= "°"=- I ^^"ted to hurt you " 
t,,;^-! I .''u*'^'''^"^'' "P°n the balustrade, and then 
turning slowly he paced along the verandah, while Alice 
Deringham choked back a sob as she noticed that now hb 
s^eps were uneven. She had accomplished the task that 
was laid upon her. and it only remained for her to keen 
silence and hide her suffering. In another moment he 
would descend the verandah stairway and she wouM never 
see him again. Alton, however, went past the stairway as 

pained the girl more than his face had done. Then he 
X?n^ •"t"''" ^.f" ^^' ^''"^ ^' f^^'te^' f°r there was a 
stK ctt\"e!:.^ "'"^ '"^'^ ''^'"- "'^ ^*°PP*^ -«« 

aI^°"t^"'' ^/y '° ^•"■^'^e me— but it hurt," he said 
a^moment wonder almost drove all other emotion out of 
thing"^ ''°"'' ""''^"^^''d- It "'as I who did that horrible 

Mv I!!f"'" ^''^ AUon very gravely. " >ou were driven to it. 
My dear, you could oi your own will do no wrong." 

330 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

Again his great faith in her brought the blood to the 
ZleLTl"^ t^e girl and her humiliation almost over! 
klralt^ndsh^sL^H^^t: '''-^^^' ^'- "« ^•'-'i 

and onged for any means of punishing you." 
.f«H?" '^T''' *° ^^'^"- ''"* his eyes were fixed on her 
!{,„, i'7 ' ^" J P^'" moment he had laid his hand upon her 
shoulder and forced her to look up at him. 

Then we will forget it together," he said. " There was 

hated me^"'""'^'^''^''^'"'' ^ ''° "°* *'"'' y°" '=°"'<1 ^''^ 

bitter'nn?^f"^''f'" "^v"} 1^'* '"'"'^sle I it was a very 
fW ?■, IV*^ '■^^''"'' "'^ all-sufficiency of the love 
that woulc beheve no evil. "It is impossible, and it will 

how very d|fferent that is from what you think of me'" 

Alton smiled gravely. " My dear, I want you as you are 
How could It make a difference whether you had done right 

eve^Wnp "'" ''°''' ^■°" "*™'"= ™''<=" ^ ''""^ 

nprfnrh°JL"'^l°"" "^"""^ ""'"^''"^ '" ^'' eyes, and Alice 

.nmith-n -^ ■ "" face was very weary, but there was 
somethmg m her eyes which restrained the man 
,» ♦u •?" o "° r"°'"e." she said, with a downward glance 
at the long black dress. " Have you forgotten ? You have 
Shown me what a man can rise to, Harry Alton, but I will 
not wrong you further by marrying you. Now you must 
say nothmg, but out of pity for me go away." 

The appeal was effective, for Alton bent his head " I 
am going— but there is nothing impossible, and I will come 
Dack, he said, and moved slowly towards the stairway 

Alice Deringham watched him cross the garden, and then 
the last vestige of the resol .tion that had sustained her 
melted, and she went very wearily into the house, where, as 
It happened, Mrs. Forel was waiting for her. The elder 
lady asked no questions, for she saw her face, but drew the 
girl very gently down beside her. 

340 



MISS DERINGHAMS CONFESSION 

" J.^nVforry. my dear," she said. 



341 






CHAPTER XXXIV 

THE CONSUMMATION 

twinkle in hi/eves Seaforth hl^ U "'°'' "-pbusinesslike 
••vZ'^\^i^ ^'"'^ '^"- Charley some tea." said Alton 

other tCgi" """^ '" ""^ ^°'^=' y""'!^'- -= «ell as the 
awa;.'"^"|f:^?':l:e't:^'^'!.? ■!!,""= ^^^-^ V^-^^ ^^e cup 

r^nr^t^r'^J^^^^a^^^wr 

Harry?" '"^'- "^^^ "^= strawberries gone up. 

„:rt'*°!) "°<^'^«d. " That's a fact, and 1 am very glad " ho 
everyday and th.^^' "'' ^'^"'^'"^ °"' ^t^"' ^ toVofthe 

That IS quite possible," said Forel drvlv "hut ,> h< 

StTsVoV--^''''^^^"''^ ^"""'"^ °- oZirXs .':;:; 

"Then you will have to fall back upon Horton's t.a, ' 
342 



THE CONSUMMATION 

"x^I'lh"; Sf cJnSf L''-- -»>- he ,ets it from 
to buy it from h n, and ihe raso'o??h° *'"'l"''' ""^ <l"'y 
to me. Makes one smell the rtfl, ^""^' '^e bush back 
ing and I-m ver;:ired If'the ct •■• '"' '" "'^ '="'«= «-"- 

was piichtS^ouVorat'x'f^r;^^^^^^^^^ t* "^^ >-«'« F°-' 
with anything in it. ' ^' ^^' ^e had not found one 

she "fd!" ^°" " '"'"'='"' ^'''^^ '^«°^y at Somasco. too?" 

and b;^l;o■gh1omfoTm^'"'^ " ''"* ^' "^^^ "ave by 
for a distil°ery WeVe^o.wf "h" ^""''^ "^ave more use 

"^re? JT^T "-Tt 'uT^l'^rrordTCy^..'''" -"' 
are a'anv l7' '°°'''"ff ^ "«'^ '"°'-e though ?ul " You 

^xf^S^S^^StrSi^^"-- 
going upf?,^tarwhrwT'rrne'-'""^''' "''^ ^--^-'^ 

have^ytSdt^T^l-f .."^^' ''^^•^•" ^'^ F^'" "But 

bo>^'*are' ^ttfnf ™ t'he"",'-^^""'^. 1 "' ^"'^ ■""■"e of the 
camped down ^ith stakes r'^H ='"'' 'here's another crowd 
tells me he findk if ht ►S , ,^^ "?'?' '" '''""t "f him. He 
I'd ha^e gone ut only that rm^'Pr'' 'i'"''' "^ *em, and 
decision." ^ ^ "'^' ^ "" ^^'""S f"-- 'he Crown folks' 

Fo'rel '"anVt'},?. k^" °"'-'' .^^"'^^^ '^e claim open" said 
"^Si^^^ sen-d you^an^ 

nott'^t^f'la^J- ""•^- '^r' "ad told them 
had beL enVri"}:'r th "fe,' „1 ^^ ^^ " it""-" 
t.es meant a good deal to all of them' % ?h" daim t^^ 
343 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

fo«J ";^.Tr^'r,i',^:ii^>tiCsai.M.. Sea- 
he^ °d" ''"f vt had'Tho^s '""' '"^"" '° 'f ' -" help it ." 

to g^t away f 1 thid vTnd tih'"^ f\ " "^"'^ ^^"'^ 
Miss Deringham up to'Sonico "'^'" °'i?^'"^ ''" ''"'' 
house for a week or two'" ^°" ''''" ''="'1 "^ 'he 

I wa°t a maTCith a' b^utess " "^ " T" ^^ "'^ P--We. 
scarcely hold aH the thinTs ivf IS "^ "'"''''• ^'>' head will 
lately." *'""^' ^ ^^ heen trying to cram into it 

pattrVor'afrougfthrs;''"" T- ^"«"= ^"^ "^ ^y- 
promising now Alton had bin ^ "'" 1°°'^"^ =" "ttle more 

can only sit still.'' ' '*^'' -'°" "^" work-while we 

Forel smiled upon her " WpII " ^« • i 

" No," said Forel resoUitelv. " Nor do I mpan tr. Qf 
down agam, Harry, and don't get fancying thTngs"' ^" 



THE CONSUMMATION 

Alton moved a pace forward with a dark flush in his 
face. Forel, he said, " where did all those dollars come 
iromi" 

Forel looked almost abject, and in his desperation glanced 
towards Nellie Seaforth. 

"_ I think you had better tell him now," she said 
You know, too?" said Forel. 

Nellie Seaforth smiled a little "I think I knew all 
along, she said. " Still, Charley didn't. He is, of course, 
a man, 

xT''ir'"^"l°^ y°" ^^^ K°' '° '^" "!«•" said Alton. 

Nellie Seaforth raised her hand with a little imperious 
gesture. As you know half of it I think you had better 
hear it all, she said. " Well, if I had been Miss Derine- 
ham I would have taken that way of giving you back 
Camaby. It is possible to raise money on an estate in the 
old country. 

There was no need of further questions, for the answer 
was written on Forel's flushed face, and Alton sat down 
with his hps firmly set. Then there was an awkward silence 
until he spoke again. 

"And I cannot return it. Every dollar has been sunk in 
the mills and roads except what we took up the first loan 

Nellie Seaforth nodded with a pretty gravity, for the 
usuall • *^*" '''^'" *" ^^ stronger than friendship 

" ^n'" ^^ ^''^' " ^"^ ^ '^*"'* ''^'P thinking that it is just 
as well. One cannot shirk his responsibilities, Harry, and 
you are an Alton— of Carnaby. You see, nnbodv could take 
your inheritance from you, nor, though you did vour best, 
could you give it away, and there is, I fancy, only one mean- 
ing to that. Fate is too strong for von. You will redeem 
Carnaby again, go over there, and be— what vou were born 
to be. 

Alton's face was once more flushed, and the girl fancied 
his fingers quivered a little, but while he sat silent there 
was a tapping at the door and an urchin flung a journal into 
the room. 

" Colonist," he said, and vanished suddenly. 
345 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

Forel, who appeared glad of the diversion, picked up the 
paper, and then stood up. " News at last," he said ex- 
citedly. " I fancied we would have had it first, but the 
news agency fellows have beaten us, Harry ; it's more than 
probable they re going to rush the railroad through." 

Alton s eyes glittered. " Great news, but it will keep," 
he said. No, don't worry over any more of it. Look at 
the notices. 

Forel folded back the sheet. Then it rustled in his hand, 
and his voice shook as he read disjointedly : "Vacant 
Lrown lands. To ail it may concern. Mineral claim on 
lett bank headwaters Somasco River in unsurveyed terri- 
to^', frontage declared to be " 

"Give it to me, or get on," Alton said hoarsely. 

The paper was shaking visibly. " Is declared to be on or 
after 12 _p. m. on the date undermentioned eligible for re- 
location, and Forel ended with a little gasp, " You have 
lost It, Harry." 

Alton was on his feet by this time and snatching out his 
watch. No, by the Lord! " he said. " I've still rather a 
better chance than most other men. Head straight for the 
freight traffic man, Charley, and tell him I'm going up with 
tte fast Atlantic freight they're sending our empty cars 
tack on. Forel, run across and send in your stenographer. 
There are lots of things I've got to do. .ind the fr»ifrht will 
be going out in an hour or so." 

Nellie Seaforth laughed a little. ' Then Mr. Forel will 
not have time, and there's another woman anxious to do a 
little for Somasco. Give me a pencil, Harry, and beein rieht 
away." & s 

Alton only flung her a grateful glance, and dictated rap- 
idly, until Seaforth appeared in the doorway flushed with 
haste, when shouting his thanks after him he ran down the 
stairway. 

Nellie Seaforth laughed a little. " Good fortune go with 
him. That is Alton — of Somasco," she said. " I wonder 
whether he will remember to put on his hat." 

"I don't think it's likely," said her husband. " Nellie, I 
can t help wondering if you were right just now." 

Mrs. Seaforth smiled at him curiously. " It was right I 
34G 



THE CONSUMMATION 



K £a ^^ ;l::,[l^t'^n ■. too ,n. for you. 

saS hTwifeVndlSKeha^' '"".""« ^"""-n 
Horton's hotel. Horto^ himself^waT^'^" "'" ^'=^""'''"' "^ 
and a group of bronzed bush IZt ^""^ "JP *"'' ''"W"- 
below. They spoke more ranidlv th^n"' '^'^ '" *''« dust 
their movements were curioSllvrlfi *? "?"^' *'''h them, 
and their eyes were fixed um^ tlfT^"' ™I»s«ve men 
down the valley beneath theTn,K^ '''■'"'°*>' '"" 'hat led 
was still, and a drowsy esinous frfir"" '^^'^ """"°°" 
about the hotel. There was nnLFu"" ''""« heavily 
and the murmur of sliding w^^" X h"'. '^' '°^ "°'«»' 

Alice Deringham was IZlL ^ ^.stance, 
was an intent^ess in her'^el a„d'3'h''"'?^' "^°"^'' '^ere 
close by her she looked at hfrn '" "'"*°" ^'^PP^d 

" No " sald'thf ^'^ "^"^'"^ y«' " "he said. 
have'tenl'e'rX nZ' "'^^- " '*"'' ^-^ °^ '"em should 

g-VUndtougrKTb^rn fj^^^/'^r --P^ 'he 

in ^:l "Tdo"?Setorr/^'' 1° «"^ - -"et 
brought a wire in before & Jf ^;,'^'' 't*=™ *^" ^ '^''^i 
claim was posted vac^n? anvbLf . m""^*!' ^""^ °"« '^^ 
a holy croVd of jumpers Ta^^fn."''' "J^K^ "• There's 
because there'd be such a circus nn.!^/™"'', ^^^ "''"<'■ «nd 
fi-ot his pegs in fiVst the Cmwr,^^''^ ""f'^ he sure who'd 
to the man who go throSh anH^^- would probably listen 
be pounding down the °ran as Iffh.'^^^ °''' y^'' 'h^yH 
now, but there's none o^ them Jot th?' T' ""^'^ ^hem 
weVe fixed up for Harry " ^ *''^ '■*^'^>'" "^ horses 

;ound it necessary to light his cLrL^" ^PPa^ently 

then. The voices had 4d a;:a3SrreTa? n^o^nd^ 

347 



■ 1 






w. 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

n«?rKv"'7" '''*'"'^* *«*'"• 3"'' 'he watched a bronied 
man rubbing down a great black horse whose blood had not 
come from a Cayuse pedigree until a faint drumming grew 
ouder down the trail. It swelled into a sharp sta™ afo Lnd 

nwn behind. R.dmg like brmistone. Can you see them 

The drumming sound sank, and rose again in a confused 
r^r as the horsemen crossed a wooden bridge whilTAlfce 
D^nngham stood up, when once more th! voices rosl 

hinH°"r,°^ the jumpers first. Harry's coming along be- 
hmd Cayuse played out. Lord, how they're riding" •• 

I hen hps were set tight, and steady eyes blazed as a man 
grimed with sweat and dust who reeled in his ^ddle sZ" 

wa ched h m had"^V" " Jf1f''.h°"e. Most of thoseX 
watched him had a heavy stake in that race, for it was with 
Alton s prosperity they must stand or fal : but the bu h- 
mans code of honour is as high as it is simple and thev 
sprang aside to give the rider'^a free pas3 'xhe ™n 
th"^"'/'^*?!" in a curious dazed fashion fs he rode™ 
whh r^H^r"''".? 't'^'"''.'^''" '""^ *e lather dripjing tinged 
Cm 1°"" *^^ horse's whitened sides ^ 

scarce'v'sunk7nr'f"fP \^'^'^ ^""T '°"''^^' *"d he had 
«h?rt JL? '° ^^^ shadows when Alton, stripped to 

fnA^ ^, trousers rode in. He, too, swayed in the addle 
and his face was foul with dust, but it was firm y set and 

.ad;ro?th^'"n-'" '!' ^^"' "l"'"^ '' »«= swepTo'ut of th 
iraiJ h/ reLTu- T "'^" '^'' '^^ horse out into the 
h^m,;if^ fu •"' '^f ' '" "P°" ''^ haunches, swung 

h m incfZh '^?'- "'It' '^' P''i^'' ^«"^hody tendered 
mm, and with a swing that rent the white shirt was onr,- 
more m the saddle. Then there was a scattering of ?1 
crowd and a shouting broke out v.aucring ot tiic 

re;dy°at'lht2Jrran"ch...'"^^- "*"^- ^°^" ^orse 
348 



THE CONSUMMATIOX 

■.oo'is" ?;■■&; S „'d" ^if "^ «• .-""^ » third beat of 
and drtvc his hecs home' TlTt,^"'^'',"^ ."^ »''< bridle 
clamour, reared ahnost mH^h, ^"'u^' f"S'««ied by the 
trail, while the ciVI won ,^, -.1'^ 'hen backed across the 

the man would S^l ^p"" The-Uor iu'ra",''"^'?! '^"^her 
his head, and saw her stan, inl J * "^°"'' he turned 
'".h'-heejc', and a diresrfnh"er'eyer"'=^ "'"^ =« "-« 

"^.J^HIt-— " =?^^ ^°"'' ^'^'"^ ^' ^" 

senfh°: hl'tn're^'h'e%X'^ts'^^"H"r' ""' ^ "«= 
g'r smiled down on him braveU n,,/ /'^^' ''^"''' """l 'he 
And for Carnabv •' he rrr. "', "^ 'V"*>' e>"- 
Then the horse shot forul f' 7u"" * ^e beaten." 
fhirt fluttering as the S rM;h?l'' ^%*='^ ^^''J' h» torn 
'ngham hastened to the 2nd of th ''"''• *i"L" ^"" D*^" 
to see the last of him i.f.f ^'', ^^''""dah with Forel 

floundering gallop ^"" =" ^"°'her man rode in at a 

tHrIXri!ai'n1uira'"rtat'-ri"?f' ^"' "" heart 
closing with the one in fron? fV^^^^'^ ''' *"°"d rider 

becam^e blurred Wore her e° td shl"/"' T" «^^« 
cold. '^>'-*' and she turned suddenly 

ex;Sns'tinf up™'".B"rh'ortr'"t' ''f ^ -^ °f 

^^erJ^/:d^i^"|f^^^" = '-™- 

straight into hi'^Zt^'e'^^jJS;'?, '^o^- Harry rode 
was blown. The other o^e'. ^i have known his horse 
clear again." °"^' """^'^ "P- Somasco's leading 

M;l''Crs':t'^;^l^;t""1,"''^^- ^-' "^-w 'hat 
wunt at all. She rould s^n fi ' """ '^^'J'"^ "»' ^^^m to 
hor.,e up the trail! whi e another*\h?t u'^f'J'^ 7" ^ ^^"<=" 
behind was sinking into thl Jhl . had already left it far 
jumper was beaten but Alton J, "J'' "^ -'^ P'""' The 
and Camaby-wit"h ^Ir^^^:: ^^Z^'"' ^"^''° 
349 



MiaiOCOrY DESOIUTION TEST CHART 

(ANSI ond ISO TEST CHART No. 2) 



1.0 



I.I 



12.8 

13.6 



1^ 

■ 2.0 



u 1^ 



A /APPLIED l(VHGE Inc 

^ 1653 EosI Main Street 

\S Rochester, New York 14609 USA 

SS (716) 482 - 0300 - PHone 

^ (716) 288- 5989 - f o. 



ALTON OF, SOMASCO 

Then she turned to Mrs. Forel with a softness in her 
eyes which somewhat astonished the elder lady 

,. T *''°r '1 ''?'^ }° ^° ^''^ '° Somasco now," she said 
1 am a little tired, and I know that he will win " 
A wagon was awaiting them, and Forel several times 

ShometrrrS;* '" "'^ '^"'''"•="' ''^ ^« '^-- 

1, w.'^f % u"i^ '".**■■ *''^" °"« evening the leading in- 
habitants of the district assembled in Somafco ranch Those 

rnd°th?'/nnr"!f'l.'''"'..^''°"^'^* *"^ *ives with them, 
tn t^n„.^i^ f Ki ^■"- ¥*^«"y ^""^ toiled since morning 
the ^Wf *^^^"^ !," '^ *.f ''*°" '^'^"'"g *e occasion, fo? 
the chief roads and trails surveyor and a membe^ of 
evening Government were to be entertained that 

v«^e^ """n"^ ^u^ °^ cedar-sprays relieved the red- 
Z fow'^^i"!!' 'i'^"''' ^"e flowers and early fruits upon 
the table, and the fragrance of the firs came in through the 
open windows, while when the bronzed men filed in there 
was expectancy in their steady eyes. Several of them had 
ridden here and there with the surveyor all that day, and 
uL r^^^'^T^^t ^^"^ approval of all they had shown 
i . u"' '°°' "e appeared a trifle astonished when point- 
ed out the new road they had driven under Alton's guid- 
ance along the mountain side. It would reduce the distance 
to the settlement several miles, but it had cost many dollars 
and weeks of perilous toil, while the surveyor had only 
Stated that It was well done, and the men of Somasco had 
as yet no answer to the important question whether the 
Uovemment would complete what remained unfinished or 
in any way recompense them. 

Supper was served with as much ceremony as was 
possib^at Somasco, but the meal was a somewhat silent 
one 1 he ranchers were a trifle anxious while the surveyor 
i^^ T!u'°A','" Den"gham, who sat next him near the 
H,^1hV K*^"'''.-^"''u*'= "«="''er of the Government 
divided his observations between the wife of a big axeman 

p-eat importance to them were happening in the city, but 

save for a brief telegram from Alton stating that he had 

350 




"KHM.MBHK ^^^^i^^^^^^^^^ ^... SOM.SCO,- 



m 



pfil 


1 


Sfflt' 


1 


« ■ 


' 





THE CONSUMMATION 

been allowed to record the mine and would return in a day 
or two they had no authentic news. 

It was almost a relief when the meal was over, and there 
was a sudden hush of attention as the surveyor rose up. 
Every eye was turned upon the grave-faced gentleman at 
the head of the table. 

" I ha^ e spent a good many years buildmg roads and 
bridges in various parts of the Dominion, and have never 
seen better work than you have shown me to-day," he said. 
" Now I don't quite know if you expected me to talk busi- 
ness on this occasion, but I'm going out early to-morrow, 
and I fancy your good ladies are as anxious as you are about 
the welfare of Somasco." . 

A woman with hard brown hands turned m her 

" Oh, yes," she said. " We are that, anyway, and because 
we're most of us working twelve hours every day just for 
the right to live, we've sent out our men to make the roads 
that are to bring the dollars that will make things easier 
in. The Government don't help us, we're doing the work 
ourselves, and we'll go out, too, with the drill and shovel if 
the men are beaten." . . 

There was a deprecatory murmur that had yet in it grim 
approval, and the surveyor smiled a little. 

" That, I think, is the spirit which is going to make this 
province the greatest in the Dc- ion," he said. Well, 
I may tell you that I was sent .,j here with a tolerably 
wide discretion, and after seeing the rock cutting by the 
lake I'm going to use it now. Nothing better has been 
done in the province, and t.ie man who planned it for you 
had courage as well as genius.^ It is a most daring and 
successful piece of engineering." . », i- i 

A little flush crept into the bronzed faces, and Mrs. l<orel 
noticed the brightness in Alice Deringham's eyes, for the 
man who had spoken was a famous engineer. 

" Well," he said gravely, " we are going to take over 
that road— as from the beginning— and finish it for you. 
That is, you will be paid by the province for every day 
you spent upon it, and I leave it to the man who corn- 
menced it to see the work through. His pay orders will 

3SI 






IH I 



t;i i 



I'f 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

pHmemhim "*"'* I should very much like to see and com- 

,-, tj!i"™^'' '■^" "i'™^ ^"^^ **'''«• ^o"- the Governnent pay 

L?r *«'' ^ ■■oad-makmg grant a coveted boon in each 

onely valley whose inhabitants are usually glad to keep 

the work in their own hands. ^ 

Ha'r^°^*'" ^'"^ ^onx^body, " this is what comes of trusting 

fj' ""^A-f "'TPi.*^ ^P":?""' ''"* *e second murmur which 
followed It and the confidence in the bronzed faces stirred 
Alice Deringham. She had been taught a little about 
Uiese silent men, and knew the value of their te.ti- 

The surveyor sat down, and the member stood up " I 
ut^M l^H ' n' g^P't'e-^en," he said. "Roads are always 
useful, and we II give yoa a good one, and, if my word goes 

Z,r^f' ^ ^?"' '° •="' ?"°'" f=''s with and improve 
any'you cfr'bu'w.'^"'' ^°*"^ *° '^^^ "" '^"^ °»« *=« 

rn^^ ^'tT'' * moment and there was not a sound in the 
room. The men sat still as statues, the women drew in 
their breath, and the song of the river came in through 
the windows in slow pulsatir.ns. Every eye was on the 
AM.L^'^T^ m"^ then a hard brown hand quivered a 
wl/i: * '"u'^^ '","^'* °* ^^^" suspense there was no man 
weak enough to ask a premature que ,tion. 

The surveyor smiled a little. " Gentlemen," he said 
slowly you have all heard conflicting rumours, but I 
vo? -mI" message, and you can take it as a fact that 
you will have the steel road very shortly " 
r=.tll»'J"S^ *^v* was a roar that shook the rafters, and a 

'Vh^hL^T}^''\t^''l f ** ™^" ■■°s« t° thei-- feet- 
They had toiled and hoped for this, holding on with grim 

endurance when hope had almost gone, and now all Aat 

they had looked for was to be given them. There was no 

"^M ^''^uf-T^°f'^ "°' ''"°* *hat his ranch was worth 
treble what it had been a few days ago, or woman who 
could not see that henceforward there^need be no nTore 
ceaseless drudgery One, indeed, laughed inanely, clasping 
her hardened hands, and a dimness crept into eyes, morl 
352 



THE CONSUMMATION 

^fs,&^:is^-:^ «•" -- *»' '^ '-^ 

Boys," he said, and his voice shook s liwi. " i u 
i™?* J "topjHid abruptly, and through the stl«nce that tni 

hrou.,^ Vh ""^'"f ^^l^ somebody was shouldermg hT^^zv 

i;ou are pleased that we have won? " he said. 
353 



mi 



m 

I If" 



IM 



ALTON OF SOMASCO 

.. ,"7^*' ' **''' *''^ Kirl, who felt that speech had its limits. 

1 knew you would." 

Alton seemed to sigh with a great contentment. " Then " 
he said quietly, " if it was only to hear that I would begin 
Jt all again. * 

He had no opportunity for further speech. There were 
questions to be asked and answers given, while it was some 
hours later and most of the guests had departed when 
he found Alice Deringham alone upon the verandah. The 
moon hung over the cedars on a black hillside, the lake 
flung back its radiance steelily, and the stillness was made 
musical by the sound of falling water. Alton had come 
out from the presence of the surveyor with a glint of 
triumph in his eyes. 

"There is only one thing wanting to make tl. the 
greatest day of my life, but without it all the rest counts 
for nothing. You know what it is," he said. 

"Yes," said Alice Deringham simply. "But why did 
you not ask for it earlier, Harry? It would have saved 
one of us so much." 

.-,i^r",?"T'*"^^^'' * ''"'^' ^"<^ glanced down at his knee. 
Well, I fancied— but, pshaw, I was a fool," said he. 
Yes," said Alice Deringham. " I think you were— for 
I was only sorry then. And— after all that has happened 
—are you not foolish still? I am not the wom^n you 
fancy I am, Harry, and you know how I have wronged 
you. ° 

You are the one I want," said Alton gravely. " And 
I know who it was gave all she had to help me when I 
was beaten." 

Alice Deringham still drew back from him. "It was 
your own, and you do not quite know all yet," she said. 

I am a penniless girl " 

Alton laughed exultantly as he stooped and caught her 
wrist. "All that I want the most you give, and when 
vou sent me away I knew it was mine," he said. " But 
Somasco, and the silver up yonder, is mine, too, and that 
when we have redeemed Carnaby will be quite enough 
for two." " 

Alice Deringham made no further resistance, but glanced 

354 



THE CONSUMMATION 

MP into his eyes as he drew her to him, and then felt his 

arm close round her with a great contentment. 

_ it was half an hour later when she net Nellie Seaforth 

Alice Dermgham coloured in a fashion Nellie Seaforth 
had not Wlieved her capable of. and there wa a depth of 
grave tenderness in her eyes. ^ 

I mlVL'tn^'^^^^^y- " ^IJ' ^"''''^ °f his goodness 
1 must try to be a better woman. 

She passed on and Nellie Seaforth, who found her hus- 
ba^d smiled a h.m. " It has all come right, and I don't 

It htp"en7i'e:lM7;r^'' '' '"'^^' "^^ "^^^ '^' 

Shta^ooTn- ,"';'"f ^'" °^""^'^^"' I^- ^- 
taught a good deal, and whatever she may have been she 

will only be lovable as Mrs. Alton." 

Seaforth smiled gravely. " Now I understand— fellow- 
.,fi^..PxrP*' ""^ *°' ^"«> °^ '=°"'-se you are right," he 
said. There must be a special blessing on those who, 

hand " ^"^' ''^"^ ''"'^' ^'^ S:ive with an open 



TBB END 



355